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Coffee earnings up by Sh2bn in July on scarcity

Coffee earnings increased by Sh2 billion last July on high demand from buyers following a shortage of the crop at the auction.

Data from Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) shows the crop earned Kenya Sh14.3 billion compared with Sh12.2 billion realised in the corresponding month last year, representing a 17 per cent growth.

The volume of coffee offered for sale at the auction in July was 29.3 million kilogrammes against 31.3 million kilogrammes supplied at the same time last year.

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“Better prices were realised in July this year resulting from high competition as traders competed for the little volumes available at the auction,” said NCE chief executive Daniel Mbithi.

Mr Mbithi attributed the decline in production to adverse weather conditions in Mount Kenya, one of the main growing regions.

He said a 50 kilogramme bag of the produce traded at Sh24,308 compared with Sh19,467 last year.

Volumes were yet to rise forcing NCE to suspend trading over a week ago, less than a fortnight after resuming business following a one-month break. Mr Mbithi said the auction was postponed because they did not receive enough coffee to sustain the trading. There was a significant reduction of coffee from farmers in the eastern part of the country, NCE said.

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The auction had earlier taken a break on May 23 as the main harvesting season in central Kenya came to an end, which saw a sharp decline in the quality of beans.

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About 85 per cent of Kenya’s coffee is sold through the auction with the remaining percentage sold directly to overseas buyers.

The government has been pushing for direct sales to eliminate middlemen, who exploit farmers when their crop goes through the auction, and enable growers to earn more.

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