The Iyego Farmers Cooperative Society was established and registered in May 1959 with 600 members. It later renamed itself the Iyego Coffee Growers Cooperative Society to better represent its members’ mandate. Today, the society is 7,528 members strong—approximately 4,500 of whom are active—and focuses exclusively on coffee. On average, members farm about a one-third hectare of planted coffee.
The Cooperative Society is fully owned by its members, who contribute shares and are issued share certificates. It’s also regulated by the Cooperatives Act. Members elect 9 board members and 3 supervisory committee members, who oversee day-to-day operations. There are also 70 permanent staff members under the direction of a Secretary Manager. During peak harvest time, seasonal workers are hired to assist with production.
Recently, due to drops in coffee prices and instability in the sector, the Society had to close down 7 of its factories and turn them into collection centers. Marimira is still a standalone factory, as are Iyego, Mununga, Gatubu and Gitura. All of these are located within Murang’a County.
Pictured above in purple is Jacquiline Nyaga, manager of the Iyego Cooperative. The team at NKG's Ibero Kenya say she is one of the most interested and engaged managers they've ever met. When Ibero hosted managers in its QC lab, to cup coffees alongside them, they shared a presentation that included floating tanks. It was the first time Ms. Nyaga had seen the tanks, and she was surprised to learn that they help increase quality.
Just a few weeks later, she installed floating tanks at all her washing stations, which the team at Ibero believes is one of the key reasons that quality improved markedly this year—as did payments to the cooperative members.
Good Practices and Nursery Projects
The Society shares good agricultural practices with its members, from crop establishment through crop development and harvesting. Members are trained in coffee husbandry, plant nutrition, pest and disease control, soil health and soil conservation.
The Iyego Society has also invested in a coffee nursery project and has new seedling varieties, such as Batian and grafted Ruiru 11, which are resistant to leaf rust and Coffee Berry disease. Farmers are offered seedlings at subsidized prices and on credit for three years. Repayment is issued from the earnings harvested from the issued seedlings.
Through a partnership with Neumann Kaffee Gruppe’s Tropical Farm Management, the society is now also fully computerized. All the collection centers and wet mills have digital scales, and mobile software (the initial phases of NKG BLOOM), have “increased the efficiency, accuracy and transparency of our operation,” says the Society.
Further, the factory has reduced its overhead by more efficiently paying members, enhanced its communication with farmers, improved its coffee quality through trainings and farm visits, created greater accountability of the Society’s properties and funds, and can offer farmers credit for one full crop year (18 months).
Going forward, it hopes to upgrade its processing facilities, increase the funds it can offer on credit and better adapt to climate change. It’s also concerned that most of its farmers are older, and is considering how it will develop going forward.
Cupping notes: Peaches, lemon, florals; juicy acidity, delicate body and mouthfeel.