Kenyan coffee farmers were told last week that coffee is a crop that can be their ticket out of poverty. A district commissioner told them if they took coffee farming seriously the money being paid for coffee now would bring good incomes. The farmers, who attended a one-day agricultural fair last week, received instruction in improving their farming practices. They were told that the crop needed proper management but not a lot of land. Even small plots could bring income in.
The commissioner discussed why elderly landowners should divide their land among their children and encourage each to farm their share. The increasing demand for food, not just coffee, is making it worthwhile to farm all pieces of fertile land. The commissioner also had a message for financial institutions. He called on them to inform family members if they lend money to other members. This has been a problem in the region, because men often take out loans without the knowledge of family members who are thus unaware they can help with loan payback. For this reason, many farms have been lost to auction. Farmers were also scolded for spending tea subsidies on “drinking and other retrogressive vices”.
Men were advised to be more responsible when it comes to the welfare and education of their families. The article on Allafrica.com didn’t cover anything other than the instruction they were given. There was no response given from the farmers. The admonishments give some insight into the problems facing Kenyan farmers and reveal underlying attitudes standing in the way of ending their poverty. It’s one thing to scold but it’s not enough. The farmers will have to taste some success before they will see how that ticket will take them up the income scale. If they can heed the advice to plant more coffee, especially among other crops, in a few years they will not only help the coffee shortage, but help themselves and their families to better lives