The European Union (EU) has urged Kenya to improve the competitiveness of export products through disease control and research as a way of promoting market access and productivity of agricultural commodities.
EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said this during a visit to the country’s Coffee Research Institute (CRI). The pronouncement came during the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, where the EU led a central agenda on export competition in agriculture.The EU forms a primary market for Kenyan coffee beans, which grew by 17% in 2014 to $254.2 million (Sh2.6 billion) due to improved production and higher prices. This earned farmers $145 million (Sh1.5 billion) at an average price of $212 (Sh22, 300) per 50kg bag.
In 2013, the Coffee Research Institute (Formerly Coffee Research Foundation) received EU funding through the Kenya Rural Development Programme (KRDP) to promote capacity building in coffee growing counties. The funding costs EUR 2 million for a four-year period and targets cooperatives in 32 coffee growing counties in Kenya.Past EU funding has been used to develop two new coffee varieties, Ruiru 11 and Batian. The varieties have the aim of increasing yields at lower costs due to their increased resistance to the major coffee diseases: Coffee Berry Disease and Coffee Leaf Rust.Speaking during the tour of the Coffee Research Institute, Commissioner Hogan said, “The new coffee varieties have led to increased coffee production and improved productivity, which has in turn led to increasing national coffee export revenues for Kenya.’’“The importance of coffee to the world economy”, he said, “cannot be underestimated. Coffee remains a key industry for the Kenyan economy and remains one of Kenya’s most important agricultural export products.
The EU understands these vital facts. Through various initiatives, we have shown our commitment to enhancing the performance of Kenya’s coffee sector so as to increase its productivity and market competitiveness.”The EU remains a steady trade partner for Kenya with the country’s export to the EU amounting to over Sh100 billion on a yearly basis. Main export commodities are flowers, beans, peas, tea and coffee.It is estimated that six million Kenyans are employed directly or indirectly in the coffee industry.
Coffee Productivity Project
Coffee Research Institute (CRI) is one of the beneficiaries of EU support in Kenya under the broader Kenya Rural Development Programme (KRDP) receiving funding of €86.4 million from the European Union to improve agricultural productivity nationally, with a specific focus on improving livelihoods especially in the arid and semi-arid lands. It also supports the government in providing policy direction and leadership in planning, implementation and coordination in the agricultural sector.The Coffee Productivity Project has been in place for the last two and half years. Through the project, over 100 cooperatives staff, and women and youth have been trained on Coffee Nursery management and top working/grafting. coffee nurseries in cooperative societies and other.