The excitement raised by direct flights to Kenya Airways to the US might entice Kenyans to believe that the American market is ours for retrieval. The reality is that other countries are targeting the same market and it will require hard work, just to get a piece.
Kenya Magic takes to the sky
This explains why reports that representatives from developing coffee countries are in Nebraska, USA to market crops are heard to be accepted. However, even as the country celebrates the opening of the US market, steps must be taken to ensure we do not continue exporting our jobs by selling raw coffee.
Allowing foreign companies to import, roast and market Kenyan coffee as their own increases the obstacles that the state must overcome when it brands its own products. According to a recent report by the Kenya Producers Association and the Kenya Business Guide, brands of locally produced goods can multiply income and double the triple income sent to treasurers.
Kenya will benefit greatly from the Secretary of the Agriculture Cabinet and the Trade and Industrialization partners interrogating this report and establishing moving policies that add value to agricultural exports.
Coffee and tea offer the best products to start because they grow widely throughout the country. There are countries that have walked this path that can teach Kenya one or two lessons. The fact that Kenya produces the best coffee and tea used to combine low quality provides a competitive advantage for the country.
In the case of coffee, Kenya can learn from Ethiopia and Rwanda that export their brands to America and elsewhere.
The country might look to Sri Lanka in terms of tea. The same study revealed that Sri Lanka exported 50 percent of its tea processed in 2016 with income equivalent to Sh62.5 billion compared to Kenya Sh15 billion.
The awareness that the pieces in Kenya, the tears and curly black tea lost the ground to green, the taste ready for various drinks should be an encouragement to process our tea.
The historic KQ flight landed in the US
But even when Kenya moves to add value to its products, it would be wiser to ensure that most of the additional income remains in the country, benefiting farmers. This can be done by helping farmers have a larger share of the value chain. Two crops offer the best place to start this journey.
It will also be easier for lenders led by the Kenya Cooperative Bank to offer credit to cooperative communities rather than individuals.
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