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In Kiambu, on the outskirts of Nairobi, it is not uncommon to find new residential estates coming up replacing coffee estates. Coffee was the mainstay of economies in the central Kenya region for decades, before more lucrative real estate prospects knocked door to provide homes for a burgeoning Nairobi population.

But this is more than quick returns for land owners. Coffee returns have been dwindling for the last three decades. Initially, the poor prices were blames on government policies to subdue a region that was clearly opposed to the government of the day. Then the global slump on coffee prices hit the region and farmers failed to see the need of keeping the bushes where returns were minimal. But also, there was local mismanagement of coffee farmers’ cooperatives and recently climate change and coffee theft that has brought the once important crop to its knees.

But this did not just …