Coffee farming in Kenya holds a special place, blending history, economic importance, and sustainable living. Kenya’s climate, altitude, and soil create the perfect conditions for growing flavorful coffee beans known for their rich taste and enticing aroma.

Coffee Farming In Kenya
An Old Woman Harvesting Coffee in Kenya

The current production quantity of coffee in Kenya is 51.9 thousand metric tons. This is an increase from the previous season, which produced 34 thousand metric tons. The increase in production is attributed to favorable weather conditions and government interventions to improve the coffee sector.

The average yield of coffee per hectare in Kenya is 601.6 kilograms. This is lower than the global average of 700 kilograms per hectare. The low yield is due to a number of factors, including the aging of coffee trees, poor farming practices, and pests and diseases.

An important constituent of the coffee bean is caffeine. The free caffeine content in a bean is dependant on the coffee type, variety, the site conditions and other factors, and can be more than 2.5%.

Why Kenya has areas that are good coffee farming

Kenya’s location along the Equator provides a climate that is ideally suited for growing coffee. The Kenyan landscapes are dominated by Arabica type, accounting for 99 percent, while Robusta comprises the remaining 1 percent.

The deep fertile volcanic soils and well-drained atย high elevationsย are especially suited for the Arabica coffee typically produced from 1220 meters above sea level. These soils are also acidic, with a pH between 5.3 and 6.0, making them even more ideal for coffee. Additionally, annual average rainfall ranges between 1000mm and 2000 mm, is adequate and well distributed in two distinct wet seasons. Some prime areas are around the slopes and foothills ofย Mount Kenya, the Aberdare ranges, Mt Elgon, the Kisii Highlands, and parts of the Rift Valley.

A Brief History of Coffee Farming in Kenya

Despite its proximity toย the origin, coffee made a detour worldwide for 500 years before entering Kenya! It is thought that it first grew at the French Mission at Bura on the Taita Hills as far back as 1885. The missionaries had transported bourbon coffee seeds from Bourbon Island (now known as La Rรฉunion island) to the shores of Kenya in the late 1800s. ย However, documents show that John Paterson introduced the plant to Kenya on behalf of the Scottish Mission in 1893.

The coffee was first introduced to the Kiambu-Kikuyu district in 1896, a fertile area in Kenya. By 1912, the site had plantations spanning several hundred acres, predominately growing the Bourbon and Kent varieties. In addition, coffee was grown at Kibwezi, under irrigation in 1900, and at Kikuyu near Nairobi in 1904. In the 1930s, following the Devonshire White Paper Report of 1923, the Colonial Government allowed controlled planting of coffee outside the European settled areas in Kisii and Meru in particular.

While credit for the introduction of coffee rests with the Missions, it was the settlers who accelerated its importance to the economy. They were actively encouraged to grow crops for export to help repay the exorbitant costs of building the railway.

To protect their interest, the wealthy Europeans banned the locals from growing coffee. They also introduced hut tax and gave them less and less money for their labor, forcing the Kikuyus to flee their land. This legal slavery of the local population continued into the century until the Mau Mau Uprising forced the British to surrender control of the coffee in 1960. This period also coincided with the regeneration of the country and the construction of Kenyaโ€™s independent government, which enforced strict pricing on coffee farmers.

Until that time and beyond the actual control of coffee in Kenya would pass through several different regulatory bodies, including:

  • CB (Coffee Board), 1933:ย This was the first solid regulatory body developed by the colonialists to monitor licensing and inspections to marketing and sales.
  • CMB (Coffee Marketing Board), 1947:ย Primarily geared toward marketing the coffee Kenya produced.
  • CBK (Coffee Board of Kenya), 1971:ย The role of CBK was solidified in 2001 with the Coffee Act. Theyโ€™re in control of policies surrounding everything from licensing to production and sales of Kenyan coffee.

The native Kenyan farmers adopted the long-acquired expertise and knowledge after independence in 1963, resulting in today’s high coffee quality standards, which coffee drinkers worldwide know so well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Kenya coffee is produced by smallholder farmers. In recent decades, the Kenyan government decreased its restrictions on coffee and gave farmers more freedom to set their prices and make decisions regarding their business.

Kenya Coffee

Most Kenya coffee grown is Arabica coffee grown on the rich volcanic soil that is found in the highlands of the country. Today more than 250,000 Kenyans are employed in the production of coffee. Most is produced by small land holders that are members of cooperatives that process their own coffee. Still, even with this Kenya coffee’s specialty status Kenya coffee farmers still remain among the poorest in the world.

Coffee Farmers In KENYA
Young African woman collecting coffee berries from a coffee plant, Kenya, Africa. Photo Credit

Kenya coffee has a bright acidity and a wonderful sweetness with a dry winy aftertaste. A really good Kenya coffee will also have a black-current flavor and aroma. Some of the worlds finest coffees come from Kenya and as a single origin coffee it wins praise at the cupping table.

Kenya has this level of quality through a government-run system that offers rewards to farmers for producing better quality coffee. This policy has lead to steady improvements and consistent improvements in the cups quality. Each lot of Kenya coffee, if it is from a large farm or a small co-op has to undergo rigorous testing for quality by the Coffee Board of Kenya.

Coffee Growing Regions In Kenya

  • Central Kenya, which produces about 60% of the country’s coffee. This region includes the counties of Kiambu, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, and Thika.
  • Rift Valley, which produces about 25% of the country’s coffee. This region includes the counties of Nakuru, Kericho, Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, Trans Nzoia, and West Pokot.
  • Western Kenya, which produces about 10% of the country’s coffee. This region includes the counties of Bungoma, Vihiga, and Kakamega.
  • Eastern Kenya, which produces about 5% of the country’s coffee. This region includes the counties of Machakos, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, and Meru Central.
  • Coast, which produces a small amount of coffee. This region includes the counties of Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa, and Taita Taveta.

Kenya is the 12th largest coffee producer in the world. It is a major producer of Arabica coffee, which is known for its high quality. Kenya’s coffee is exported to over 50 countries around the world.

Coffee Varieties In Kenya

Coffee Plants come in two main varieties :- Arabica and Robusta

Arabica beans are mild in the cup, with comparatively less caffeine, while Robusta has more aromatic. The Robusta tree appears bushier, the leaves are larger and the berries form in clusters

Coffee Research Foundation (CRF) currently produces four commercial cultivars (varieties) of Arabica coffee. Different varieties are recommended for various altitudes.

  • K7 โ€“ low altitude coffee areas with serious Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR).
  • SL 28 โ€“ medium to high coffee areas without serious CLR.
  • SL 34 โ€“ high coffee zone with good rainfall.
  • Ruiru 11 โ€“ all coffee growing areas. Resistant to both Coffee Berry Disease (CBD) and CLR.

1. K7 Coffee Variety

K7 cultivar was selected at Legetet Estate in Muhoroni from the French Mission Coffee. It is distinguished by its spreading habit on young laterals although older primaries tend to be decumbent or drooping. It has characteristic medium to narrow leaves with young shoot-tips that are intermediate bronze in colour. The cultivar has resistance to some races of CLR as well as partial resistance to CBD. It is suited for lower altitudes where CLR is prevalent. The bean and liquor qualities are good.

SL 28 Coffee Variety

The SL 28 cultivar was selected at the former Scott Laboratories (now the National Agricultural Laboratories, NARL situated at Kabete) on a single tree basis from the Tanganyika Drought Resistant variety selected in Northern Tanzania in 1931. The prefix SL in the variety name are acronymous for Scott Laboratories where the variety was selected. The name is completed by a serial number (28) for the selection. The variety is suited for medium to high altitude coffee growing zones.

SL 34 Coffee Variety

SL 34 was also selected at the former Scott Laboratories from French Mission Coffee. The cultivar is adapted to high altitude areas with good rainfall. It is majorly characterized by dark bronze shoot tipped plants with a few green-tipped strains. The laterals have semi-erect habit which tend to become decumbent or drooping on older primaries. The cultivar produces high yields of fine quality coffee but is susceptible to CBD, CLR and BBC.

Ruiru 11 Coffee Variety

Ruiru 11 variety was released in 1985. The variety name has the prefix โ€œRuiruโ€ referring to the location of the Kenyan Coffee Research Station where the variety was developed.

The name is completed by an additional two code numbers, 11. The first code number denotes the type of variety as a one way cross between two designated parent populations and the second number defines the sequence of release, in this case the first release.

The variety is not only resistant to CBD and CLR but is also compact allowing farmers to intensity production per unit land especially in high potential areas where population is high and coffee is in competition with other crops and farm enterprises required for food security and income.

Ruiru 11 is planted at a density of 2500/3300 trees/ha compared to 1300 trees/ha for the traditional varieties. This translates into a higher production per unit area of land. The variety comes into production earlier, hence earlier realization of benefits to the farmers.

The development of Ruiru 11 also took into consideration the importance of quality as a major marketing parameter. Since the quality of the traditional varieties was already popular among consumers of Kenyan coffee, Ruiru 11 was developed with quality attributes similar to the traditional varieties.ย 

Batian Coffee Variety

Batian is the newest variety in the country.is suited to all coffee growing zones in Kenya at a spacing of 7ft by 8ft. It is a high yielder, has good population per unit, moderate disease tolerance but with moderate rooting system.

Other coffee varieties

Although the varieties mentioned above are the most commonly grown, some coffee plantations have blue mountain and the original French Mission Coffee in the Arabica range as well as Robusta coffee especially in the low altitude and humid areas such as Western Kenya.

coffe farming in kenya 2024
Young African woman collecting coffee berries from a coffee plant, Kenya, Africa.

Production and quality parameters

Variety

 

Yield kg Cherry/ treeYield of clean coffee tons/haOutturn (12-20% in Arabica coffee% Grade AA + AB100 bean wt
SL288.52 kg1.8 tons18.24%80%20g
SL346.11 kg1.35 tons14.4%62%30g
K79.05 kg2.01 tons14.5%68%24g
Ruiru 118.39 kg4.6 tons17.79%70%25g

Ecological Requirements On Coffee Farming In Kenya

  • Altitude:ย Coffee is best grown at altitudes of 1,500 to 2,000 meters above sea level. This altitude provides the cool, moist climate that coffee needs to thrive.
  • Soil:ย Coffee grows best in rich, well-drained soil. The soil should be slightly acidic, with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
  • Rainfall:ย Coffee needs an average of 1,500 to 2,000 millimeters of rain per year. The rain should be evenly distributed throughout the year.
  • Temperature:ย Coffee grows best in a warm climate with average temperatures of 18 to 24 degrees Celsius.
  • Sunlight:ย Coffee needs full sun to grow well.
  • Shade:ย Coffee trees can be grown under light shade, but too much shade will reduce the yield.
  • Wind:ย Coffee trees are susceptible to wind damage. Windbreaks should be planted around coffee farms to protect the trees.

Coffee Propagation

Requirements for Coffee Nursery Site

  1. ย Permanent supply of clean water
  2. Accessibility for ease of transport
  3. Land tenure security
  4. The site should be secure. To be constructed in a safe environment
  5. The nursery site should be level or gentle in slope
  6. Sheltered from strong wind
  7. Avoid valleys where cold winds settle at night

Coffee Nursery Construction In Kenya

  1. The nursery to be constructed in East to West direction
  2. The beds should be 1-1.5 m wide for ease of weed management and watering
  3. The shade net used for propagator should be 75% and 50% for the hardening shed. This should be done at least 2.74m (9 feet) from the ground level.

Construction of the Propagator Construction of the Propagator of coffee

  1. Propagators are constructed by excavating an area of 1.5m wide by any convenient length with a foundation depth of 37.5cm.
  2. The propagator is filled with gravel to a height of 15cm and a 22.5cm layer of river sand is added to achieve good drainage
  3. Erect 1.2m posts spaced at 1.5m to make a frame using metallic rings, timber or flexible sticks
  4. A 22.5 cm wall of stones or offcuts is raised around the propagator for support and to avoid surface runoff
  5. The rooting media used can be either top soil, cypress sawdust, river sand
  6. The polythene used to cover the propagator should be UV treated with a 1000 gauge
  7. A watering system should be fitted to the propagator to ensure constant supply of water to regulate the relative humidity
coffee farming in kenya 2023
Young African woman collecting coffee berries from a coffee plant, Kenya, Africa.

Propagation of coffee through Cuttings

  1. Harvesting of suckers is done when the mother bushes have produced mature suckers at least six (6) months old that have attained pencil size thickness
  2. Harvesting of suckers should be done early in the morning when the atmospheric relative humidity is relatively high.
  3. About 2 or 3 single node cuttings can be generated from one sucker when the mother garden has been properly managed.
  4. Single node cuttings are prepared by making a cut at an angle below the node but retaining the pair of leaves which have been reduced by half
  5. The cuttings are planted in polybags filled with a 2-inch top layer of red soil and the remaining 7 inches of potting media (3:2:1 of top soil, river sand and manure) or directly in a propagator using subsoil as rooting media
  6. Callus formation begins 3 weeks after planting and is complete in 5-6 weeks. Root development follows after 8 -10 weeks
  7. Watering should be done adequately and cover the propagator within the same day to prevent moisture loss and should be airtight
  8. Hardening of seedlings starts at 2 months after propagation by opening the propagator for 1 to 2 hours a day in the morning or evening hours. After three months the propagator is fully opened
  9. The seedlings are ready for field establishment after 7 to 8 months

Land preparation on Coffee Farming In Kenya

  1. Carry out land preparation early about 6 months prior to planting by clearing existing vegetation and getting rid of tree stumps and roots. If the farm is heavily forested gradually dry existing trees about a year before planting.
  2. Carry out crop specific soil analysis to know soil acidity and nutrient availability.
  3. In case of very steep gradient implement soil conservation measures like terracing, digging ditches or planting blue grass.

Layout and preparation of planting holes on coffee farming in Kenya

  1. Prepare the land before the planting season by digging out all tree stumps, roots, bushes and grasses, and determine the soil conditions through soil analysis
  2. Land cleared of trees within 6 months should not be used for coffee planting because of the risk of Armillaria, a fungal disease which causes root rot
  3. Make terraces or other soil conservation structures where the land has steep slopes
  4. Protect bench terraces by planting grasses e.g., blue grass (Paspulum notatum) on the benches to stabilize them
  5. Arabica coffee trees are spaced 2.5 meters x 2.5 meters (8.2 feet x 8.2 feet), which gives a population of 1,667 trees per acre. Robusta coffee trees are spaced 3 meters x 3 meters (9.8 feet x 9.8 feet), which gives a population of 1,111 trees per acre.

    However, in some cases, the spacing for coffee can be closer, such as 1.5 meters x 1.5 meters (4.9 feet x 4.9 feet) for Arabica coffee, which gives a population of 3,333 trees per acre. This closer spacing is used to increase the yield, but it requires more careful management to prevent diseases and pests.

  6. Prepare 2 ft marking pegs sharpened at one end using available materials such as twigs. Other materials required are sisal twines and tape measure

  7. Mark positions where the coffee will be planted with pegs to create regular patterns to facilitate farm management.
  8. Dig holes of 60cm by 60cm by 60cm in depth (2ft by 2ft by 2ft) at the marked points. Dig the holes at least 3 months before planting to allow for better water and root penetration
    through the soil because it has had time to loosen and soil borne pest management
  9. When digging the holes, keep the fertile topsoil separate from the subsoil.
  10. Fill holes with top soil mixed with one debe (20 litre container) of well composted farmyard manure plus 100g Triple Supper Phosphate (TSP) or 200g Single Super Phosphate (SSP). Where the soil is acidic, add 100 grams of Dolomitic Lime. The holes should be filled up with a slight heap one month before planting
  11. Mark positions where the coffee plants will be planted with pegs and realign before planting
  12. Re-align before planting
Coffee Plantation In Kenya
A Coffee Plantation In Kenya

Field planting Coffee

  1. Obtain coffee seedlings fromย KALRO‘s – CRI or any certified coffee nursery about a month before planting to allow for sufficient hardening.
  2. Selected seedlings should be mature enough about 8 months since transplanting with about 8 pairs of leaves or even a pair of primary branch.
  3. Open the soil mound sufficiently at the top centre to accommodate the tap root and other roots and plant the seedling without burying the stem crown
  4. Remove the polythene tube gently to avoid disturbing the potting media. The potting media should be as porous as possible having a mixture of loam, sand and manure. If clay is used you will be forced to break it to allow roots to penetrate and Plant the seedlings at the start of the main rain season after the soil has become wet up to about 60cm (2ft) deep(shown by a crack between normal surface and the mixture in the hole). Press the soil around it gently.
  5. Avoid deep/shallow planting. Deep planting constrict the stem thus interfering with nutrient uptake as well leading to stunted growth or death.
  6. After this foliar feed twice per month alternating between a balanced foliar and a phosphorous foliar. Apply 50g CAN 26% six months after planting.
  7. Do not use any herbicide in the first two years of establishment. To control weeds you can mulch, plant cover crops or use mechanical means.
  8. Regularly inspect the planted field to identify dead plants and replace them as soon as possible.

Mulching On Coffee Farming In Kenya

Mulching has several beneficial effects to the young coffee plants which include:

  • Moisture retention during dry periods
  • During decomposition there is supply of nutrients and encourages root development
  • Weed growth suppression
  • Soil structure improvement thus enhanced water penetration and minimizes soil erosion
  • Moderates soil temperature during the day
  • Reduction in incidences of thrips.

Mulch Application

  1. Materials suitable for mulching of the young crop include Napier grass, maize stover, wheat straw, bean trash, banana leaves, coffee husks, grasses or any other dead plant material.
    However, a prolonged use of Napier grass could cause magnesium deficiency as it contains high potassium content.
  2. Place the mulch 1 foot from the coffee stem to prevent infection with collar rot or attack from ants and termites.
  3. Terracing and planting blue grass at the face of the terraces to minimize rainwater runoff.
  4. Digging water basins at some points of the terrace to preserve rain water. The water seeps through the soil slowly to the neighboring coffee trees and preserve trees during the dry period.
  5. Grass Strips to control surface run-off

Intercropping Coffee

This is the growing of another crop alongside coffee to increase farmers returns though maximum utilization of the available growing space.

Intercropping can be carried out within the first 18 to 24 months after coffee establishment or during change of cycle by clean stumping. Ideal intercrops should have the following characteristics: early maturing to fit in the rainy periods only, should not be creeping plants unless the crop is trained on stakes and not alternate hosts to coffee pest and diseases.

Recommended intercrops include beans, tomatoes, Irish potatoes and cabbages. The intercrop must utilize only the 1.5m space between coffee rows and number of rows to be reduced as the coffee canopy expands.

Husbandry

Coffee grows best with shade trees. Shade trees reduce stress in coffee. Avoid extracting timber at random for short-term gains. Maintain a two-layer canopy consisting of temporary and permanent shade trees like coconut, Ficus species, Albizzia species, jack fruit, and citrus, etc. At higher altitudes temporary shade trees may be phased out once the coffee is well-established.

Regulate shade every year instead of once in 3-4 years to minimize damage to coffee bushes. Shade tree selection and management are important because better shade may decrease the incidence of some important pests and diseases. Suppressing of weeds, particularly East African couch grass (Digitaria scalarum) and Kikuyu grass, by careful tillage (not damaging the superficial feeder roots of the coffee), mulching and/or leguminous cover crops, is very important.

When to prune:

Immediately after main crop harvesting. Sick-looking trees due to die back to be pruned only after new growth. Trees attacked by star scales to be pruned after the main crop to avoid carrying the scales to other trees.

Multiple stem pruning: The tree normally has 3 stems and the crop is borne on laterals. Each lateral bears 2 crops and is then pruned. The crop is therefore borne higher up the tree each year. Every 4-6 years a new cycle is started. This is done by selecting 3 new suckers, which will replace the original stems. In multiple stem pruning, 4 basic operations are carried out:

  • Main pruning: Regulating the number and spacing of primary branches.
  • Secondary pruning: Also known as “handling”, involves regulating number and spacing of secondary branches.
  • Sucker control: Removal of unwanted growing shoots called “suckers” (remove them with the meristem, otherwise you multiply suckers)
  • Change of cycle: Selection of some “suckers” to grow into new bearing stems.

Harvesting Coffee

Each year coffee is harvested during the dry season when the coffee cherries are bright red, glossy, and firm. To maximise the amount of ripe coffee harvested it is necessary to selectively pick the ripe beans from the tree by hand and leave behind unripe, green beans to be harvested at a later time.

Selective picking of coffee berries at 10-14-day intervals is common where harvesting extends over a period of 7-9 months. Where the harvesting season is shorter, whole branches are stripped when the majority of berries are ripe. Costs of harvesting will be 2-3 times higher for selective picking than strip picking. Deliver berries for processing the same day they are picked.

Pulping must be done on the day coffee is picked as coffee left in the sun will start to ferment. Pulping is done to remove exocarp and mesocarp through the wet processing method after which coffee parchment is obtained. The parchment is then dried in shallow layers on raised tables or trays to moisture content of 10-11%. For more information on processing, please contact Coffee Research Foundation (CRF), Ruiru.

Processing Coffee

Almost all Kenyan coffee is wet processed to ensure the best quality. In a wet processing method, the coffees are fully washed, then dried in the sun on raised drying screens/beds. They are otherwise naturally processed by drying under direct sunlight before milling and grading.

Marketing Coffee

Currently, there are two coffee marketing systems in Kenya: the central auction system and the Direct Sale. The central market system is the oldest and has coffee auctions conducted every Tuesday throughout the year, where licensed coffee dealers buy the coffee through competitive bidding. The Nairobi Coffee Exchange is under the Kenya Coffee Producers and Traders Association (KCPTA).

The Direct Sale, commonly referred to as โ€œSecond Windowโ€ requires that a marketing Agent directly negotiates with a buyer outside the country. But, first, a sales contract is duly signed and registered with the Directorate, which then ratifies the agreement after carrying out an inspection and analyzing the coffee for quality and value as per the contract.

There are two categories of Marketing Agents:ย Commercial Marketing Agentsย who offer their services purely for commercial purposes andย Grower Marketing Agentsย who are growers marketing their coffee.

Cost Of Coffee Beans In Kenya

The current price of coffee beans in Kenya per kilogram ranges from KES 573.61 to KES 1194.44. The price varies depending on the grade and quality of the beans, as well as the time of year.

The highest-quality coffee beans, known as “AA” grade, can sell for up to KES 1194.44 per kilogram. These beans are typically grown in the best coffee-growing regions of Kenya and have a high level of acidity and flavor.

The lowest-quality coffee beans, known as “PB” grade, can sell for as low as KES 573.61 per kilogram. These beans are typically grown in less favorable coffee-growing regions and have a lower level of acidity and flavor.

The price of coffee beans also varies depending on the time of year. The price is typically highest during the harvest season, when there is a limited supply of beans. The price is typically lowest during the off-season, when there is a surplus of beans.

If you are looking to buy coffee beans in Kenya, it is important to do your research and find a reputable supplier. You should also be aware of the different grades and qualities of coffee beans so that you can choose the beans that are right for you.

Cost of Coffee Production per Acre: Breakdown and Profitability Analysis

To understand the cost of coffee production per acre and assess profitability, let’s consider a hypothetical coffee farm in Kenya. Keep in mind that actual costs can vary based on factors like location, farm size, yield, and market conditions. For the purpose of this example, we’ll use average figures.

Expected Expenses for Coffee Production per Acre (in Ksh):

  1. Land Preparation:
    • Clearing and tilling: 10,000 Ksh
    • Goat manure: 20,000 Ksh
  2. Planting and Inputs:
    • Coffee seedlings (1,000 seedlings per acre): 50,000 Ksh
    • Fertilizers and nutrients: 4,500 Ksh
    • Pesticides and herbicides: 6,500 Ksh
  3. Labor:
    • Planting, maintenance, and harvesting labor: 60,000 Ksh
  4. Shade Trees:
    • Establishing shade trees: 4,000 Ksh
  5. Water and Irrigation:
    • Irrigation setup and maintenance: 80,000 Ksh
  6. Equipment:
    • Basic tools and equipment: 5,000 Ksh
  7. Processing and Marketing:
    • Processing (pulping, drying, etc.): 4,000 Ksh
    • Marketing and transportation: 10,000 Ksh

Total Expected Expenses (in Ksh): 254,500 Ksh per acre

Projected Yield Scenarios (per acre):

  1. Low Yield Scenario:
    • Yield: 800 kgs of coffee cherries
    • Price per kg: 573.61 Ksh
    • Revenue: 800 kgs * 573.61 Ksh = 458,888.80 Ksh
  2. Average Yield Scenario:
    • Yield: 1,000 kgs of coffee cherries
    • Price per kg: 573.61 Ksh
    • Revenue: 1,000 kgs * 573.61 Ksh = 573,610 Ksh
  3. High Yield Scenario:
    • Yield: 1,200 kgs of coffee cherries
    • Price per kg: 573.61 Ksh
    • Revenue: 1,200 kgs * 573.61 Ksh = 688,332.40 Ksh

Profitability Analysis:

  • Low Yield Scenario:
    • Revenue: 458,888.80 Ksh
    • Expenses: 254,500 Ksh
    • Profit/Loss: 458,888.80 Ksh – 254,500 Ksh = 204,388.80 Ksh
  • Average Yield Scenario:
    • Revenue: 573,610 Ksh
    • Expenses: 254,500 Ksh
    • Profit/Loss: 573,610 Ksh – 254,500 Ksh = 319,110 Ksh
  • High Yield Scenario:
    • Revenue: 688,332.40 Ksh
    • Expenses: 254,500 Ksh
    • Profit/Loss: 688,332.40 Ksh – 254,500 Ksh = 433,832.40 Ksh

Notes:

  • Adjusted expenses have a direct impact on profitability, emphasizing the need for efficient cost management.
  • Calculations are based on assumed values and may not reflect real-world market conditions or yield variations.
  • Profitability analysis underscores the importance of maximizing yields and controlling costs for a successful coffee farming venture.
Young African woman showing freshly picked coffee cherries, coffee farm in Kenya, Africa. There are several species of Coffea – the coffee plant. The finest quality of Coffea being Arabica, which originated in the highlands of Ethiopia. Arabica represents almost 60% of the worldโ€™s coffee production..

Pests and Diseases Affecting Coffee Farming In Kenya

Pests and diseases have a significant impact on coffee farming in Kenya, affecting yield, quality, and overall profitability. Here’s an overview of some of the major pests and diseases that commonly afflict coffee crops in Kenya:

Pests:

  1. Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus hampei): One of the most destructive coffee pests globally, the coffee berry borer drills into coffee cherries, causing damage and reducing yield. Infested cherries often show holes or tunnels, and the quality of beans is compromised. Integrated pest management strategies, such as regular harvesting, proper disposal of infested cherries, and introducing natural predators, are used to control its spread.
  2. Antestia Bug (Antestiopsis spp.): These bugs feed on the sap of young coffee cherries, causing “black sip” or “stink bug” damage. This results in off-flavors and reduces the quality of the beans. Integrated management practices, including proper pruning and chemical control, are employed to manage their populations.
  3. Aphids: Aphids suck sap from coffee leaves, causing them to curl, yellow, and eventually drop. They excrete a sugary substance called honeydew, which promotes the growth of sooty mold. Natural predators like ladybugs and lacewings can help keep aphid populations in check.
  4. Mealybugs: Mealybugs also feed on plant sap and produce honeydew, leading to sooty mold growth. Severe infestations can weaken the coffee plants and stunt their growth. Cultural practices like regular pruning and introducing natural enemies can help control their spread.

Diseases:

  1. Coffee Leaf Rust (Hemileia vastatrix): This fungal disease is a major concern for coffee farmers in Kenya. It appears as yellow-orange rust spots on the undersides of leaves and can defoliate trees, reducing photosynthesis and yield. Resistant coffee varieties, proper pruning, and fungicide applications are used to manage rust.
  2. Coffee Berry Disease (Colletotrichum kahawae): Also known as “CBD,” this fungal disease affects coffee cherries, causing them to rot and fall prematurely. It can devastate yields and lead to significant economic losses. Cultural practices like proper spacing and pruning, along with fungicide treatments, are used to control its spread.
  3. Root-Knot Nematodes: These microscopic worms infest coffee plant roots, causing galls and impairing the plant’s ability to absorb water and nutrients. Affected plants show stunted growth and reduced yield. Crop rotation, using resistant coffee varieties, and soil management practices can help mitigate nematode damage.
  4. Dieback (Phoma spp.): Dieback disease affects coffee branches, causing wilting and dying of leaves and branches. It can lead to significant yield loss if not managed. Pruning and proper disposal of infected material are key management practices.

FAQs On Coffee Farming In Kenya

1. Q: What type of coffee is grown in Kenya? A: Kenya primarily cultivates Arabica coffee, known for its high quality and unique flavor profiles.

2. Q: What is the best altitude for growing coffee in Kenya? A: Coffee is best grown at altitudes ranging from 1,500 to 2,100 meters above sea level in Kenya.

3. Q: What are the major coffee growing regions in Kenya? A: Some major coffee growing regions in Kenya include Nyeri, Kiambu, Murang’a, and Kirinyaga.

4. Q: How is coffee usually processed in Kenya? A: Coffee processing in Kenya often involves the wet method, where cherries are depulped, fermented, washed, and dried.

5. Q: What is the significance of shade trees in coffee farming? A: Shade trees provide protection from intense sunlight, maintain soil moisture, and promote biodiversity on coffee farms.

6. Q: What is “AA” grade coffee from Kenya? A: “AA” grade is a size classification for Kenyan coffee beans. It signifies large and high-quality beans.

7. Q: How is pest and disease management done in Kenyan coffee farms? A: Integrated pest management strategies are used, including cultural practices, resistant varieties, natural predators, and judicious pesticide use.

8. Q: What is the role of cooperatives in Kenyan coffee farming? A: Cooperatives help smallholder farmers pool resources, share knowledge, and access better markets and prices.

9. Q: When is the coffee harvesting season in Kenya? A: The main coffee harvesting season in Kenya typically falls between October and December.

10. Q: What are some challenges faced by Kenyan coffee farmers? A: Challenges include changing weather patterns, price fluctuations, pests, diseases, and access to credit and resources.

11. Q: How important is coffee to Kenya’s economy? A: Coffee is a significant contributor to Kenya’s economy, providing employment and foreign exchange earnings.

12. Q: What are the steps involved in coffee processing? A: Coffee processing includes harvesting, pulping, fermentation, washing, drying, hulling, grading, and sorting.

13. Q: How does climate change affect Kenyan coffee farming? A: Climate change can lead to unpredictable weather patterns, affecting coffee yield, quality, and overall production.

14. Q: What is “direct trade” in Kenyan coffee markets? A: Direct trade involves coffee buyers purchasing beans directly from farmers, often resulting in better prices for the farmers.

15. Q: Are there organic coffee farming practices in Kenya? A: Yes, some Kenyan farmers practice organic farming, avoiding synthetic pesticides and focusing on sustainable methods.

16. Q: How does altitude affect coffee flavor in Kenya? A: Higher altitudes lead to slower cherry maturation, resulting in beans with more distinct and complex flavor profiles.

17. Q: What role does coffee certification play in Kenyan coffee exports? A: Certifications like Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance indicate adherence to ethical and sustainable practices, boosting marketability.

18. Q: How does Kenyan coffee rank in the global specialty coffee market? A: Kenyan coffee is highly regarded in the specialty coffee market due to its unique flavors and high quality.

19. Q: What initiatives promote sustainable coffee farming in Kenya? A: Organizations and certifications encourage sustainable practices, such as shade-grown cultivation and eco-friendly processing.

20. Q: How can someone visit a Kenyan coffee farm and learn about the process? A: Some coffee farms offer guided tours where visitors can observe the entire coffee production process and engage with farmers.

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  1. What are the different types of coffee grown in Kenya?

There are two main types of coffee grown in Kenya: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica coffee is the most popular type of coffee and is known for its high quality and flavor. Robusta coffee is less expensive than Arabica coffee and is used in instant coffee and other coffee blends.

  1. What are the best coffee-growing regions in Kenya?

The best coffee-growing regions in Kenya are:

  • Central Kenya
  • Rift Valley
  • Western Kenya
  • Eastern Kenya
  • Coast
  1. What are the ecological requirements for coffee farming in Kenya?

The ecological requirements for coffee farming in Kenya are:

  • Altitude: Coffee is best grown at altitudes of 1,500 to 2,000 meters above sea level.
  • Soil: Coffee grows best in rich, well-drained soil. The soil should be slightly acidic, with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
  • Rainfall: Coffee needs an average of 1,500 to 2,000 millimeters of rain per year. The rain should be evenly distributed throughout the year.
  • Temperature: Coffee grows best in a warm climate with average temperatures of 18 to 24 degrees Celsius.
  • Sunlight: Coffee needs full sun to grow well.
  • Shade: Coffee trees can be grown under light shade, but too much shade will reduce the yield.
  • Wind: Coffee trees are susceptible to wind damage. Windbreaks should be planted around coffee farms to protect the trees.
  • Pests and diseases: Coffee is susceptible to a number of pests and diseases. These pests and diseases can be controlled by using pesticides and fungicides.
  1. What are the steps involved in coffee farming?

The steps involved in coffee farming are:

  • Land preparation: The land must be cleared of trees and shrubs and the soil must be prepared.
  • Planting: Coffee trees are planted in holes that are about 60 centimeters deep and 60 centimeters wide.
  • Fertilization: Coffee trees need to be fertilized regularly to replenish the nutrients in the soil.
  • Weed control: Weeds compete with coffee trees for water and nutrients. Weeds should be controlled regularly.
  • Irrigation: Coffee trees need to be irrigated during dry periods.
  • Harvesting: Coffee cherries are harvested when they are ripe. The cherries are then processed to remove the beans.
  • Processing: The beans are processed to remove the outer layers and to dry them.
  • Marketing: The beans are then marketed to coffee roasters and distributors.
  1. What are the challenges of coffee farming in Kenya?

The challenges of coffee farming in Kenya include:

  • Low prices: The price of coffee has been declining in recent years, which has made it difficult for coffee farmers to make a profit.
  • Pests and diseases: Coffee is susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, which can damage the crops and reduce the yield.
  • Climate change: Climate change is affecting coffee production in Kenya, as the temperatures are rising and the rains are becoming more erratic.
  • Lack of resources: Many coffee farmers in Kenya lack the resources they need to farm coffee effectively, such as land, water, and fertilizer.
  • Lack of knowledge: Many coffee farmers in Kenya lack the knowledge they need to farm coffee effectively, such as how to plant, fertilize, and harvest the crops.
  1. How can coffee farming be made more sustainable in Kenya?

There are a number of ways to make coffee farming more sustainable in Kenya, including:

  • Improving the quality of coffee: By improving the quality of coffee, coffee farmers can get a higher price for their crops.
  • Reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers: This can help to protect the environment and the health of coffee farmers.
  • Promoting agroforestry: Agroforestry is a system of farming that integrates trees and crops. This can help to improve soil health and reduce erosion.
  • Supporting coffee farmers: There are a number of organizations that support coffee farmers in Kenya. These organizations can provide farmers with training, access to markets, and financial assistance.
  1. What are the different coffee processing methods?

There are two main coffee processing methods: wet processing and dry processing.

  • Wet processing:ย In wet processing, the coffee cherries are first pulped to remove the outer skin and flesh. The beans are then fermented to remove the mucilage, which is a sticky layer that surrounds the beans. The beans are then washed and dried.
  • Dry processing:ย In dry processing, the coffee cherries are dried whole. The cherries are first spread out in the sun to dry. Once the cherries are dry, the beans are removed from the cherries.

The wet processing method produces coffee with a brighter acidity and a more complex flavor. The dry processing method produces coffee with a fuller body and a more earthy flavor.

  1. What are the different coffee grading methods?

There are two main coffee grading methods: cupping and grading by screen size.

  • Cupping:ย Cupping is a method of evaluating the quality of coffee by tasting it. A panel of judges will taste the coffee and score it on a number of factors, including acidity, body, flavor, and aroma.
  • Grading by screen size:ย In grading by screen size, the coffee beans are sorted by their size. The beans are passed through a series of screens, and the beans that are caught in each screen are given a different grade.

The cupping method is the most common method for evaluating the quality of coffee. The grading by screen size method is used to determine the size of the coffee beans.

  1. What are the different coffee brewing methods?

There are many different coffee brewing methods, each with its own unique flavor profile. Some of the most popular coffee brewing methods include:

  • Drip coffee:ย Drip coffee is made by pouring hot water over ground coffee beans. The coffee drips through a filter into a carafe.
  • French press:ย French press coffee is made by steeping ground coffee beans in hot water for a few minutes. The coffee is then pressed through a plunger.
  • Pour-over:ย Pour-over coffee is made by pouring hot water over ground coffee beans in a filter. The coffee is then poured into a cup.
  • Espresso:ย Espresso is made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans. Espresso is used to make coffee drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes.
  • Turkish coffee:ย Turkish coffee is made by boiling finely-ground coffee beans in water. Turkish coffee is thick and has a strong flavor.

The best coffee brewing method for you will depend on your personal preferences. Experiment with different methods to find the one you like the best.

  1. What are the different coffee drinks?

There are many different coffee drinks, each with its own unique flavor profile. Some of the most popular coffee drinks include:

  • Espresso:ย Espresso is a strong, concentrated coffee that is used to make other coffee drinks.
  • Cappuccino:ย A cappuccino is made with espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk.
  • Latte:ย A latte is made with espresso and steamed milk.
  • Macchiato:ย A macchiato is made with espresso and a small amount of foamed milk.
  • Americano:ย An Americano is made by diluting espresso with hot water.
  • Iced coffee:ย Iced coffee is made by brewing coffee and then cooling it over ice.

The best coffee drink for you will depend on your personal preferences. Experiment with different drinks to find the one you like the best.

  1. What are the different coffee certifications?

There are a number of coffee certifications that are available, each with its own set of standards. Some of the most common coffee certifications include:

  • Fairtrade:ย Fairtrade is a certification that guarantees that coffee farmers are paid a fair price for their crops.
  • Organic:ย Organic coffee is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.
  • Rainforest Alliance:ย Rainforest Alliance is a certification that ensures that coffee is grown in a way that protects the environment.
  • UTZ Certified:ย UTZ Certified is a certification that ensures that coffee is grown in a way that is socially responsible and environmentally friendly.

The best coffee certification for you will depend on your personal preferences. If you are concerned about the welfare of coffee farmers, then you may want to choose Fairtrade coffee. If you are concerned about the environment, then you may want to choose organic coffee.

  1. What are the opportunities for coffee farming in Kenya?

There are a number of opportunities for coffee farming in Kenya, including:

  • The growing demand for specialty coffee:ย There is a growing demand for specialty coffee, which is coffee that is grown and processed to high standards. Kenya is well-positioned to meet this demand, as the country produces some of the world’s finest coffees.
  • The development of new coffee markets:ย There are new coffee markets emerging in Africa and Asia. These markets offer opportunities for Kenyan coffee farmers to export their coffee.
  • The development of sustainable coffee farming practices:ย There is a growing focus on sustainable coffee farming practices. These practices can help to protect the environment and the health of coffee farmers.
  • The development of new technologies:ย There are new technologies being developed that can help coffee farmers improve their yields and quality.
  1. What are the challenges facing coffee farming in Kenya?

The challenges facing coffee farming in Kenya include:

  • Climate change:ย Climate change is affecting coffee production in Kenya, as the temperatures are rising and the rains are becoming more erratic. This is leading to problems such as droughts and crop diseases.
  • Low prices:ย The price of coffee has been declining in recent years, which has made it difficult for coffee farmers to make a profit.
  • Pests and diseases:ย Coffee is susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, which can damage the crops and reduce the yield.
  • Lack of resources:ย Many coffee farmers in Kenya lack the resources they need to farm coffee effectively, such as land, water, and fertilizer.
  • Lack of knowledge:ย Many coffee farmers in Kenya lack the knowledge they need to farm coffee effectively, such as how to plant, fertilize, and harvest the crops.
  1. How can coffee farming be made more sustainable in Kenya?

There are a number of ways to make coffee farming more sustainable in Kenya, including:

  • Improving the quality of coffee:ย By improving the quality of coffee, coffee farmers can get a higher price for their crops.
  • Reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers:ย This can help to protect the environment and the health of coffee farmers.
  • Promoting agroforestry:ย Agroforestry is a system of farming that integrates trees and crops. This can help to improve soil health and reduce erosion.
  • Supporting coffee farmers:ย There are a number of organizations that support coffee farmers in Kenya. These organizations can provide farmers with training, access to markets, and financial assistance.
  1. What are the roles of the government and the private sector in supporting coffee farming in Kenya?

The government and the private sector play important roles in supporting coffee farming in Kenya. The government provides support through programs such as the Coffee Development Authority, which provides training and assistance to coffee farmers. The private sector also plays a role in supporting coffee farming through initiatives such as Fairtrade, which guarantees that coffee farmers are paid a fair price for their crops.

  1. What are the challenges and opportunities for the coffee industry in Kenya?

The challenges and opportunities for the coffee industry in Kenya are similar to those facing the coffee industry globally. The challenges include climate change, low prices, and pests and diseases. The opportunities include the growing demand for specialty coffee, the development of new coffee markets, and the development of sustainable coffee farming practices.

  1. What is the role of technology in the coffee industry in Kenya?

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the coffee industry in Kenya. New technologies are being developed that can help coffee farmers improve their yields and quality. These technologies include improved coffee varieties, new processing methods, and precision farming techniques.

  1. What are the future trends in the coffee industry in Kenya?

The future trends in the coffee industry in Kenya are likely to be driven by the challenges and opportunities discussed above. The industry is likely to see a continued focus on sustainable coffee farming practices, as well as the development of new coffee markets and the use of new technologies.

  1. What are the key takeaways from this discussion on coffee farming in Kenya?

The key takeaways from this discussion on coffee farming in Kenya are:

  • Coffee farming is a major industry in Kenya, and it is facing a number of challenges, including climate change, low prices, and pests and diseases.
  • There are also a number of opportunities for coffee farming in Kenya, such as the growing demand for specialty coffee and the development of new coffee markets.
  • The government and the private sector play important roles in supporting coffee farming in Kenya.
  • Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the coffee industry in Kenya.
  • The future trends in the coffee industry in Kenya are likely to be driven by the challenges

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