More about the Farmer
The vast bulk of Kenya’s coffee is sold through an auction system under the auspices of the Kenya Coffee Board. Through these auctions, private marketing services and exporters buy top-quality lots, having cupped samples of available lots beforehand. Traceable Kenya coffees are available from privately owned estates or cooperatively managed washing stations commonly called “Factories.” Factories are typically organized in Societies, much like cooperatives organize under associations in Latin American coffee-producing countries. While private estates could market directly to buyers for some time, it’s a relatively recent development that exporters have been able to sell coffees from individual washing stations (factories) directly to buyers.
This Kenyan micro-lot comes from the Mugaga Farmers Cooperative Society, whose members belong to the Kiamabara Factory. The farms sit at an altitude of 1600 masl and include other crops such as tea, maize, bananas, and vegetables. The farmers grow the SL-28 and SL-34 varieties on red volcanic loam soils. The main crop season is October – January. The coffee cherries are harvested by hand. The coffees are washed and then sun-dried on raised beds.
There are multiple services for farmers of the Kiamabara Factory: They receive credits for school fees, farm inputs, and emergency funds. The factory management team employs training every two weeks, and there are field days sponsored by the ministry of agriculture and agrochemical companies for farmers.
Despite the services in place, improvements at the factory need to be addressed, including repairing wooden drying tables, inadequate parchment conditioning bins, and outdated machinery.