Lessons Kenya can learn from Vietnam's coffee farming success story

Baringo Cha Coffee Mill at Kaptumo area in Baringo North. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Good policies that safeguard the coffee value chain and incentives for farmers can drive  production in Kenya and other African countries, says new study.

Researchers at the Centre for International Forest Research (CIFOR) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) say the coffee sector in African nations can borrow lessons from Vietnam.

In a comparative study titled ‘Vietnam’s Coffee Story: Lessons for African Countries,’ the researchers highlighted key lessons that can transform coffee sector in Kenya.

“The exponential growth of the coffee industry in Vietnam is attributed to the successful development in people, policies, resources and technology. This growth is also attributed to coffee area expansion, favourable weather in previous seasons, investments in sustainable production, increase of the rejuvenation area and stability of prices within 2014-2015,” reads the study conducted by researchers Esther Kamwilu, Joseph Tanui and Do Trong Hoan.

Vietnam’s rise to the second coffee exporter in the world within 30 years has been driven by good policies and farmer-centred incentives.

The country’s coffee production rose from 92,000 in 1990 to 1,683,971 tonnes in 2019, according to data from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation.

The impressive growth of Vietnam in market share occurs at a time when coffee production in African countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya have stagnated or declined according to United Nations. Overall, the Vietnam government has pushed for the introduction of favourable policies and regulations like land allocation laws, price stabilisations and incentives that have allowed maximum functionality among the farmers.

The coffee farmers and exporters in Vietnam also got preferential credit, extension services, subsidised inputs including low-cost land, seedlings, and fertilisers as well as irrigation and agronomic support. Kenya and other coffee producing countries can emulate these efforts to revitalise the coffee sectors, according to researchers.

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