Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua is set to leave the country for Colombia Sunday night, on an official visit that will mostly focus on marketing of Kenyan Coffee before heading to Cuba for the Group of 77 and China (G77) Summit.
The Deputy President, whose delegation for Colombia includes farmers from different counties, is slated to participate in the Coffee Producers and Roasters Forum (PRF) in Medellin, as well as engage with leading coffee producers and sellers in the Latin American nation.
Colombia is a global leader in specialty coffee, it produces and exports to high value markets such as the US, Germany and Belgium which Kenya is also targeting through value addition. Colombia produces about 12 per cent of the world’s coffee, making it the third largest in the world.
Mr Gachagua, who has been tasked by President William Ruto with reforms in the agricultural sector, is expected to use the opportunity to lobby for support as Kenya bids to host the first Africa Coffee Producers and Roasters Forum in 2024.
Besides participating in the PRF forum, the farmers will join the DP and in engaging their counterparts during visits to coffee fields in Chinchina and a Coffee Research. It will be an opportunity for the smallholders to learn production practices.
“The coffee subsector reforms we are undertaking are eliminating middlemen and brokers. We are linking our farmer to the market. The visit to Colombia, therefore, will allow us to engage roasters directly for the farmer to be the biggest beneficiary in our coffee production chain. We will stop at nothing until the farmer thrives in profitability,” Mr Gachagua said.
The DP whose travel is a reciprocation of the May visit of the Colombian Vice President Francia Elena Marques Mina added that Kenyan farmers and the subsector stakeholders have an opportunity to gain new insights into the latest trends in the coffee industry.
The DP will hold bilateral talks with his host, Vice President Mina before similar consultations with the country’s President, Gustavo Petro Urrego.
On Tuesday, the Deputy President will lead the Kenyan delegation in a meeting with the National Business Association of Colombia in Bogotá and the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation in Cenicafé Chinchina town, Caldas.
He will also meet the Medellin City Mayor and tour the innovative transportation facilities (a cable transportation system) in the city.
The government plans to increase coffee production from the current 51,000 metric tonnes annually to 260,000 metric tonnes within five years. The visit will boost these plans.
“We hope to increase the productivity of coffee from two kilograms cherry per tree per year to 10 kilograms. We also intend to increase area under production from 116,000 Hectares to 170,000 Hectares,” said the Deputy President.
Noting that currently there are 700,000 smallholder coffee producers and 559 coffee cooperatives, Mr Gachagua said the Kenya Kwanza administration is supporting the modernization and digitization of the coffee processing infrastructure.
On Friday and Saturday September 15-17, the Deputy President will address the G77 summit in Havana, Cuba, on behalf of President William Ruto.
Statistics from the Ministry of Co-operatives & Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) on the current status of the coffee subsector indicate that there are 1,065 wet mills for cooperatives, 3,000 estate farmers and 2,132 wet mills for estates.
The figures further indicate that currently there are 22 licensed coffee mills with an estimated installed milling capacity of about 400,000 metric tonnes against an average national production of 51,000 metric tonnes.
The visit comes four months after Kenya and Colombia signed bilateral trade and investment agreements in Nairobi to grow their economy in a sustainable way, whilst providing businesses increased opportunities.
The agreements were signed in Nairobi in May 2023 during a visit by the Colombian Vice President.
Among the MOUs signed were on the Establishment of a Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) and Cooperation between Kenya and Colombia on Gender
Equality and Women Empowerment, Declaration of Intent of Public diplomacy initiatives for the promotion of Spanish as a Foreign Language, Declaration of Intent on the Promotion of Sustainable Trade and Investment, Declaration of
Intent concerning bilateral Cooperation in Higher Education, Declaration of Intent of Promotion of Regenerative and Responsible Tourism and Declaration of Intent on Cooperation in the Field of Culture.