Coffee was first planted in Kenya in 1893.There was no statutory control, in the coffee industry, during that time. Individuals handled the marketing of the coffee. Coffee Board was established in 1933 and it's role was regulatory. The Coffee Marketing Board (CMB) was established in 1946 and became fully operational in 1947 to cater for the coffee marketing activities The CMB was abolished in 1971 and its functions consolidated with those of the Coffee Board Kenya (CBK).
Since then, CBK has been managing the industry up to 2001 when a new Coffee Act 2001 No. 9, was enacted that specified new roles for the CBK as an industry regulator. There have been volatile and pervasive changes in the Kenyan business environment, following the liberalization of the major sectors of the economy.
These changes have led to various industries and organisations being affected adversely. The coffee industry, including the CBK, has not been spared from these changes. Coffee was the leading export crop and foreign exchange earner in Kenya from 1963 up to 1988. Between 1975 and 1986, it contributed over 40% of the total Kenyan exports value.
Currently, it is estimated that 162,479 ha are under coffee of which 75.5% is in the co-operative sub sector and 24.5% in the estates. The highest production was achieved in 1987/88 when 128,926 metric tonnes of clean coffee were produced with co-operatives producing 65.5% and estates 34.5%.
Coffee production declined to 56,156 metric tonnes of clean coffee in 1997/98. In 1998/99, production increased to 68,163 metric tonnes out of which estates produced 58% and co-operatives produced 42%. From current statistical evidence, the process of coffee growing, production and marketing is on the decline and hence an urgent need for novel, creative and imaginative strategies to change the situation for the better.