Kenya's domestic trade is primarily conducted through a network of wholesalers, retailers, and informal traders operating in markets and roadside stalls nationwide. Many of these traders are small business owners who play a critical role in the local economy, providing employment and income opportunities for many Kenyans.
Agricultural products, such as coffee, tea, flowers, and fresh produce, are among the most important items traded in Kenya's domestic market. These products are primarily produced by small-scale farmers who rely on local traders and middlemen to transport their goods to the markets.
Coffee is an important agricultural commodity in Kenya in terms of its contribution to the country's economy and its global reputation for high-quality coffee beans. Kenya is known for producing some of the best Arabica coffee beans in the world, prized for their bright acidity, complex flavor profile, and floral aroma.
The coffee industry in Kenya is primarily made up of smallholder farmers, with an estimated 700,000 farmers growing coffee on small plots of land. These farmers typically grow coffee as a cash crop, often inter cropped with other crops such as maize, beans, and bananas.
Kenyan coffee is grown in high-altitude regions, typically between 1,400 and 2,000 meters above sea level, where cool temperatures and fertile soil create ideal growing conditions. The coffee is harvested by hand, with the ripe cherries picked selectively over several weeks, usually between October and January.
Once harvested, the coffee cherries are processed to remove the outer layers of fruit and pulp, leaving behind the coffee beans, which are then sorted and graded by size and quality. Kenya uses a unique grading system that classifies coffee beans based on their size and density, with the highest-quality beans being labeled "AA."
Kenyan coffee is primarily exported, with the United States, Europe, and Japan being the largest importers. The Kenyan government has implemented policies aimed at supporting and promoting the coffee industry, including the establishment of the Coffee Board of Kenya, which oversees the industry and provides technical assistance to farmers, as well as the creation of the Kenya Coffee Research Institute, which conducts research and development to improve coffee production and quality.
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