Production and marketing of coffee in Kenya a case of Gikondi location, Nyeri County.
Kimathi, Charity Njeri
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While coffee has been a source of livelihood for millions of farmers and a major source of foreign exchange earnings for many countries in the world, its fortunes have been continuously dwindling since the 1980s in a number of these countries, exposing farmers and whole economies to various shocks, stresses and vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities have originated from global processes like the introduction of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) as well as context specific challenges like mismanagement at the local units of production and marketing. In Kenya, coffee farmers have faced a complexity of challenges in production as well as marketing of the crop. The net effect has been the fall of coffee,om the coveted position of lead export earner and the impoverishment of a large number of especially small scale farmers who are dependent on the crop as their source of livelihood. Gikondi location of Nyeri County is one rural area in Kenya which has been especially adversely affected by the downturns in the coffee sector as the population is almost wholly dependent on the crop. In the area, coffee growing has been mired by challenges ranging from fluctuating international prices to mismanagement of cooperative societies and reducing acreage available for coffee growing. In the face of these challenges which have led to rising levels of poverty in the area, farmers are exploring various coping mechanisms including diversified livelihood sources which are competing with coffee as a livelihood source. Against these vulnerabilities context, this study sought to discuss the challenges facing coffee farmers in Gikondi location and also examine ways through which these farmers have addressed these challenges. Using purposive sampling, the study identified 90 respondents who were farmers with at least two acres of land under coffee cultivation to carry out the research. Also, the study applied Social Capital Theory and the Sustainable Livelihood Framework to explain the challenges faced by farmers in production, marketing and accessing alternative livelihood and how they have mitigated against these challenges. Data was collected using question guidelines administered by the researcher and a team of enumerators. The study focused from the period of year 2000 as this is the year that coffee farmers in Gikondi location gained total control for production and marketing of their proceeds.