The coffee industry in Kenya is plagued by a number of challenges. Some of these are: pests and diseases, high processing costs, unfavourable climatic conditions due to climate change, outdated machinery and high cost of farm inputs. The ARABIKA initiative is a 3 year project (May 2021 to April 2024) that synchronizes with the strategies of the Kenya government and its counties in the development of the coffee value chain in the country. ARABIKA stands for Action to Re-launch Agriculture and Branding Internationalization of Kenyan coffee in and out of Africa. Eight major factors guide the way forward for the growth and improvement of the coffee sector in Kenya: Policies and legal reforms, Development of innovations and technology, Financing of coffee production, Processing and marketing, Involvement of women and youth in the coffee sector, Kenya coffee marketing, Prudent financial management of coffee institutions and Facilitation of entrepreneurship in the coffee sector. The project is funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and implemented by CEFA, AVSI and E4Impact.

A total of 21 coffee cooperatives have been identified as the main beneficiaries in this project and they were chosen from 7 counties in Kenya namely; Bungoma, Murang’a, Nyeri, Machakos, Embu, Meru and Kiambu and about 30,000 farmers stand to benefit as a result of the project’s efforts.

Drying beds used during the coffee wet-processing

Under the ARABIKA project, E4Impact is implementing a number of activities such as: capacity building of the cooperatives through business skills training and mentoring (a total of 84 managers have been trained and mentored), branding and marketing of the cooperatives’ coffee for visibility in the local and global market, creation of a digital platform for the global sales of the coffee (this platform will have blockchain and traceability capabilities so as to enhance the buyer-seller experience and enhance trust during transactions).

Other activities getting implemented are coffee cupping training courses for the cooperative members, media promotional campaigns of the coffee, creation of socio-economic and environmental rating system for coffee producers, building or renovating of 1 coffee lab in each of the 7 counties.

Gathaithi cooperative management team with a mentor from E4Impact

A success story of the project is for sure the one of Gathaithi farmer’s cooperative society. It is among the 21 cooperatives under the ARABIKA project and is situated in Nyeri county of Kenya. In July 2022, Jaunt Coffee Roasters from San Diego (USA) roasted the coffee from Gathaithi and gave it a Q grade score of 93 out of 100 (learn more).

This is very encouraging despite the myriad challenges these cooperatives go through just to get good quality coffee from producer to consumer. We’re looking forward to continue this way and achieve more success stories from our cooperatives.

Justin Kasia