Coffee farmers in Baringo County have been asked to expand acreage under the cash crop to take advantage of a Ksh 100 million coffee milling machine being put up at Katimok area in Baringo North.
Extension Officer in charge of coffee production in the county Willy Cherogony said the construction of the factory set for completion by mid-September this year will be milling an average of 10 tons of coffee per day and 200 tonnes a month.
Speaking during the handing over of the milling machine financed by a South Korean investor, Rev Cha Bo Yong, Mr Cherogony said the machine, the first in the region, will greatly transform the economic livelihoods of local farmers who have never had a milling machine since introduction of coffee farming in the county.
“Coffee production in the county has remained low because our farmers have been taking their parchment coffee all the way to Sasini, Othaya, EMS in Eldoret and recently Kipkelion in South Rift for milling. At times ferrying to Nairobi and Kiambu we incur losses in terms of transportation logistics, theft and lower prices,” he restated.
He regretted that coffee producers have been experiencing challenges selling their products because of brokers within the value chain ending up in pilferage of the goods.
The agricultural extension officer stated that area under coffee crop in the county currently stands at 2,500 hectares across six sub counties of Baringo Central, Baringo North, Eldama Ravine, Mogotio and Marigat particularly in Mochongoi area.
“Baringo North and Baringo Central sub counties are our major high potential coffee production zones. Eldama Ravine is also another high potential growing area and we plan to rehabilitate a pulping station there to boost production. In Tiaty constituency, we want to encourage people in Churo to embrace coffee farming as the area has favourable climatic conditions suitable coffee growing,” he added.
With proper crop husbandry, the agricultural officer maintained, the county can produce on average between 400-600 tonnes per year of parchment coffee.
Receiving the equipment Deputy Governor Jacob Chepkwony thanked the South Korean investor for the generous gesture and made passionate appeal to local farmers to step up production to enable the milling machine to operate at the recommended optimum level when it starts operation in nine months’ time.
“As a county we shall try our best to assist existing and new farmers with subsidized fertilizers, certified seedlings and extension services through field officers. I urge those who had abandoned their tree bushes to go back to the farm as the current supply of coffee parchment will not be enough,” He said.
Mr Chepkwony has appealed to coffee farmers in neighbouring counties of Elgeyo Marakwet, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Laikipia and Nakuru to also increase production and make use of the new coffee factory.