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High prices encourage coffee production in East Africa, but challenges remain

Source: Agritrade

USDA has posted its annual reviews of coffee production in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. The Kenyan report notes that record and near-record prices ‘have increased interest in producing and exporting high-quality Kenyan coffee’, with investments being made in improved varieties and production practices. USDA projects exports of 725,000 60-kg bags in marketing year (MY) 2012 and 800,000 in MY 2013.  This will still be below the 900,000 60-kg bags achieved in 2008/09.

According to USDA, Kenyan ‘AA’ beans will continue to be exported to the European market, where they ‘benefit from a small niche market in the premium retail trade but, reportedly, play a much more important role in blending to improve the general quality of retail coffee’. Efforts are under way to increase the production of AA-graded beans, while reducing costs and meeting ‘the many environmental and social certification requirements’.

In terms of marketing, USDA reports that Kenyan producers are questioning the value-added role of the various government-related agencies. This is reportedly leading to an increase in direct sales by producers. USDA reports a number of Kenyan government initiatives including:

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