Is Kenya’s Coffee Certification Mark Destined To Fail? A Legal Discussion

Publication Information

Journal Title: Commonwealth Law Review Journal
Author(s): Yvonne Wamuca Kimani
Published On: 01/03/2023
Volume: 9
First Page: 50
Last Page: 58
ISSN: 2581-3382
Publisher: The Law Brigade Publisher


Cite this Article

Yvonne Wamuca Kimani, Is Kenya’s Coffee Certification Mark Destined To Fail? A Legal Discussion, Volume 9, Commonwealth Law Review Journal, 50-58, Published on 01/03/2023, Available at


Poor coffee prices, constant delays in payment, lack of government support and poor management of cooperatives have been the major challenges that have faced Kenya’s coffee sector for a while. Many Kenyan coffee farmers that had once reaped immense profits from the crop are no longer singing this tune. Although Kenyan coffee is considered among the best in the world, its farmers have been neglected despite it being Kenya’s major export. It was therefore a great feat when on 14th February, 2015 the Coffee Board of Kenya unveiled a certification mark of origin,‘Coffee Kenya So Rich, So Kenyan’, aimed at promoting consumer loyalty in the importing countries all while proving the distinctiveneness of Kenyan coffee in the international market. The move follows the use of intellectual property rights to be able to create  a niche market for the possibility of raising profits for the communities that grow the crop especially seeing how European markets have successfully used intellectual property to create such niche markets with their agricultural products. African markets are slowly but surely catching up, especially with the use of geographical indications for  Penja pepper, Oku Honey, Rooibos tea amongst others. However, such initiatives do not come without downfalls. This paper examines the legal state of Kenya’s coffee sector  from the introduction of the Coffee Kenya certification mark. The aim of this research is to open a legal discussion around the already known problems plaguing the sector namely, the lack of transparency of the supply chain, failing cooperatives and the exclusion of smallholder farmers. It seeks to raise questions of whether the certification mark was a step too soon and whether these issues have been addressed since the introduction of the mark.



Keywords: Coffee, Kenya, certification mark, intellectual property rights

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