Coffee farming in Kenya is a crucial aspect of the country’s economy. The Kenyan coffee sector contributes approximately 8% of the total export earnings and provides a source of livelihood for around 700,000 rural households. The country is known for producing high-quality Arabica coffee, which is highly sought after in the global market.
Coffee industry in Kenya
The coffee industry in Kenya has experienced cyclical trends over the years, but since 2003, the coffee markets have been on a steady recovery. The increasing global deficit of coffee has played a significant role in this recovery. The consumption of coffee has outpaced the growth in supply, and this trend is expected to continue as various factors, including climate change and resource competition, constrain coffee supply, while consumption grows in both traditional and emerging markets.
Coffee farming yield per tree in Kenya
Despite the potential for profits in coffee farming, farmers in Kenya face various challenges that affect their productivity and profitability. One of the most significant challenges is low yields. Currently, farms in the country produce an average of 2-3 Kgs per tree, against a potential of over 30 Kgs per tree. Improving yields is the most significant opportunity to improve the profitability of the coffee enterprise in Kenya.
How to increase coffee yields in Kenya
To increase yields, farmers can adopt best management practices, such as fertilization, pruning, pest control, and weed management. Fertilization helps to improve soil fertility, which leads to increased yields. Pruning helps to control the height of the coffee trees, making it easier to harvest the coffee cherries. Pest control helps to prevent crop losses caused by pests such as the coffee berry borer, while weed management helps to reduce competition for nutrients and water.
Coffee farming income per acre in Kenya
Another challenge facing coffee farmers in Kenya is the cost of production. The production costs of selected farmers in 2014/15 were analyzed, and the results showed that the cost of production per acre ranged from Ksh 12,274 to Ksh 56,719. The gross revenue per acre ranged from Ksh 20,299 to Ksh 182,580, while the gross margin per acre ranged from Ksh 8,025 to Ksh 125,862. The cost per kg of cherry ranged from Ksh 17 to Ksh 33, while the net return per kg of cherry ranged from Ksh 21 to Ksh 37. To improve profitability, farmers need to interrogate the cost of production against incomes. This is according to research made by KALRO.
To improve the profitability of coffee farming in Kenya, farmers can participate in value addition activities such as processing and branding their coffee to command higher prices in the market. They can also participate in fair trade and organic coffee certification programs, which attract premium prices. Additionally, farmers can form groups to take advantage of economies of scale in the production, processing, and marketing of their coffee.
In recent years, the Kenyan government has initiated various programs to support coffee farming in the country. One such program is the Coffee Cherry Advance Revolving Fund, which aims to provide affordable credit to coffee farmers. Another program is the Coffee Rehabilitation Program, which aims to improve coffee productivity by providing farmers with free seedlings, fertilizers, and training on best management practices.
In conclusion, coffee farming in Kenya is a viable business that can provide a source of livelihood for many rural households. The profitability of coffee farming in Kenya can be enhanced by improving yields, adopting best management practices, participating in value addition activities, and forming groups to take advantage of economies of scale. By doing so, farmers can increase their revenues and improve their standard of living. The Kenyan government has also initiated various programs to support coffee farming in the country, and farmers can take advantage of these programs to improve their productivity and profitability.