Commodities

Kenya’s coffee production falls for second year

coffee

A farmer picks coffee berries in Nyeri, central Kenya. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Latest International Coffee Organisation (ICO) data for the one year to May 2021 shows that production fell from 930,000 sixty-kilogramme bags in 2018 to 775,000 in the 2020 crop year.
  • The falling production in recent years has been caused by conversion of coffee farms to other more lucrative crops and real estate projects, outdated farming practices and climatic changes.

Kenya coffee production has dropped for two consecutive years, pushing the country further behind Africa’s top producers of the commodity whose price has rebounded in the international market.

Latest International Coffee Organisation (ICO) data for the one year to May 2021 shows that production fell from 930,000 sixty-kilogramme bags in 2018 to 775,000 in the 2020 crop year.

The falling production in recent years has been caused by conversion of coffee farms to other more lucrative crops and real estate projects, outdated farming practices and climatic changes.

Kenya is the fifth largest producer of the coffee in Africa behind Ethiopia (7.38 million bags), Uganda (5.62 million bags), Ivory Coast (1.78 million bags) and Tanzania (913,000 bags).

Higher prices are, however giving farmers a reason to smile despite the lower production, with lower production in Brazil—the world’s leading coffee grower—helping boost prices.

Currently, the price of coffee at the New York Exchange, which is used as a benchmark for all world prices, is at a high of 200 US cents ($2) per pound from 144 cents in April.

“Brazil has had drought and therefore they are having problems in all the things that they are growing including sugar, soya beans and coffee,” Central Bank of Kenya governor Patrick Njoroge said in a briefing on September 29.

In the eight months to August, coffee exports have grown by 15.2 percent to Sh20.1 billion ($182 million), helped by the higher global prices and lower supply from Brazil.