Ukambani now producing top grades of coffee
The establishment of a Sh100 million coffee milling plant in Ukambani has put a smile on the faces of thousands of farmers in the region. Before it was established, coffee growers in Makueni and Machakos counties had to bear the burden of transporting their coffee parchments to millers in Kiambu and Nairobi counties for milling. It was a process that led to high costs of transportation and milling losses that constantly discouraged farmers.
The plant has a capacity of milling 1.2 tonnes per hour, which is about 600bags a day. It has reduced transport costs from Sh200 per bag to Sh70 per bag.
Machakos Co-operative Union(MCU) chairman Patrick Katingima says grading has also improved to top grade such as AA, AB and PB unlike in the past when coffee from the region used to be graded as low as grade C and TT.
One of the farmers happy with the mill is Felix Kilonzi of Mitaboni Coffee Society has seen the value of his harvest increase.
He says, “Our cooperative society delivered the best coffee last year. We are very happy with the establishment of this mill because we are no longer going to be short-changed or continue to suffer because of high transport costs”.
Mitaboni Coffee Society is one of the 34 coffee cooperative societies affiliated to the Machakos Cooperative Union (MCU) with an individual membership of 42.340 farmers. The farming area under coffee is approximately 5325 hectares and the type of coffee grown is mild Arabica.
The mill is located in Machakos town. It has made it possible for farmers and Ukambani to benefit from:
- Saving on transportation of parchment and mbuni.
- Concession milling charges
- Employment opportunities
- Access to speciality market segments
- Value addition through roasting coffee for local markets.
- Increased income for both investors and shareholders
Top coffee growing areas in Ukambani are Kangundo, Kathiani, Matungulu and Machakos in Machakos county and Mbooni and Kaiti in Makueni County. The peak period for delivering coffee is in the months of August and September.
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