"I urge coffee producers to step up efforts and fully exploit existing opportunities. This is more so now that world coffee prices have increased significantly over the last few years," said President Kibaki. He made these remarks recently while opening a milling plant at Sasini, in Kiambu.
In Africa, coffee production increased slightly from 15.8 million bags in 2009/10 to 16 million bags in 2010/11, according to the International Coffee Organisation(ICO) Annual Review, 2010/2011.
While production was lower in Ivory Coast as a result of political problems there, Cameroon also recorded reduced production.
However, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda all saw increased production. Ethiopia and Uganda are the regionâs leading producers accounting for 46.5 per cent and 20.4 per cent of African production in 2010/11 coffee season.
The top 10 leading coffee producers in the world in 2010/11 were Brazil 48 million bags, Vietnam 19.4 million, Indonesia nine million, Colombia 8.5 million, Ethiopia 7.5 million, India five million, Mexico 4.8 million, Honduras 4.3 million, Peru 3.97 million and Guatemala 3.95 million bags.
While demand for Kenyaâs coffee remains high due to its blending properties, a coffee farmer here is unable to supply this quality due to a myriad of challenges including lack of seedlings, high cost of fertilizers and other inputs such as chemicals and spays equipment. This is not to mention adverse effects of climate change.
Further, land under coffee is slowly dwindling as farmers abandon the crop in favour of what they view as more profitable ventures. This problem is acute especially around Nairobiâs Kiambu road area where most land previously under coffee are disappearing, to be replaced by real estate development.
"We are rapidly losing the acreage under coffee due to construction of highways and rapid urban development in areas around coffee growing regions. We need to devise new laws to protect agricultural land, like it happens in the developed world," said Mary Kamau, Director of Training and Extension, ministry of Agriculture.
The industry is dealing with issues of declining land holding sizes, ageing coffee plants, competition from other agro businesses such as horticulture and invasion of prime land by real estate developers.
"As part of the ongoing land reforms, we should put into law measures that will protect agricultural land, like it happens in countries such as China," said Kamau.
While Kenya consumers only less than 10 per cent of coffee produced, this is small compared to Brazil which has a strong local demand, at over 50 per cent of what it produces.