The coffee tree originated from the southern highlands of Ethiopia.
it Was introduced in Kenya by St. Austin’s missionaries in Nairobi via Kibwezi, Taita, and Bura.
Coffee Growing Areas
a) Central Province – Nyeri, Muranga, Kiambu, Thika, Kirinyaga.
b) E. Province – Embu, Machakos, Tharaka, Makueni and high areas of Meru.
c) Coast Province – Taita Taveta in the Wundanyi area.
d) W. Province – Bungoma, Vihiga, Kakamega.
e) Nyanza Province – Kisii, Nyamira, Nyabondo, Oyugis.
f) Nairobi Province – outskirts bordering Kiambu and Thika.
Factors Favouring Coffee Growing
- High altitude (910-2100 m).
- Cool temperatures (14-26◦c).
- High and well-distributed rainfall (1000-2030 mm) annually.
- Deep and well-drained acidic soils.
- Undulating landscape to ensure good drainage and aeration.
- An adequate supply of cheap labour for land preparation, planting, weeding, etc.
- Good roads for transporting coffee to factories and to the markets.
She is the leading producer of coffee.
- Cool temperatures (14◦c-26◦c).
- High rainfall of 1525mm.
- A long dry season of up to 5 months to allow ripening and harvesting.
- Terra Rosa soils which are deep, porous and rich in potash and humus.
- Undulating surface at the Brazilian plateau around Sao Paolo.
- Availability of cheap labour from tenant labourers given small plots to grow subsistence crops which makes production costs to be low.
- A good transport infrastructure with roads and railways linking estates to export ports and cities like Sao Paolo, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro.
Methods of Coffee Production
- Coffee seeds are sown in a nursery for 1 year.
- Holes are in the field and filled with manure.
- Seedlings are planted in the holes.
- Weeding is done regularly to reduce competition for water and nutrients.
- Plants are pruned regularly to control cropping and facilitate picking.
- Fertilizers are applied on older plants to maintain soil fertility.
- Between 2 and 4 years, coffee starts to bear berries.
Most of the land is owned by rich landowners and a small percentage by smallholders.
Two sets of laborers are employed and given small plots to grow subsistence crops, one to care for the crop until maturity and the other to tend the crop after it begins to bear fruit.
Farmers mainly rely on the natural fertility of the soil.
Relatively little care is given to soil therefore it becomes exhausted leading to soil erosion.
Old estates are abandoned and new estates are established by clearing more land in a forest.
o Berries are harvested by hand.
o In Brazil little supervision leads to the picking of unripe berries which lowers the quality of beans.
- Ripe berries are soaked in water.
- Then fed into a machine which removes the outer skin leaving the coffee seed.
- Seeds in water are passed over sieves to grade them according to weight and size.
- They are fermented in a tank for 12 hours.
- Then washed with clean water and dried to a moisture content of 10-11%.
- The method produces coffee of high quality.
- Berries are allowed to ripen and dry on the tree.
- They are harvested and dried further to a moisture content of 12%.
- The coffees outer cover is removed by hurling leaving the seeds.
- The seeds are put though a machine that peels off two layers of the inner husk.
- The seeds are winnowed, graded and packed.
- They are finally roasted to make a powder.
- Handled by co-operatives which own factories.
- After processing they sell coffee to KPCU.
- KPCU then passes to Coffee Board of Kenya.
- Owners of large plantations can directly export their coffee.
- Exported to countries such as Britain, Germany, Finland, Norway, Japan and N. through the world market where quota is allocated each country.
Marketing is mainly handled by companies such as Poxupe – Santos.
Export sale is through the world market where she‟s allocated a bigger quota because she produces more coffee.
She also markets its coffee via the internet website which enables her to reach a bigger market.
She markets her coffee to the same countries as Kenya.
The Role of Coffee in the Economies
- It’s a source of foreign exchange used to import commodities that are not available locally and develop other sectors of the economy.
- Saves some foreign exchange that would otherwise be used to import coffee.
- Source of income to farmers which reduces poverty and raise their standard of living.
- Source of employment for the workers in farms, factories, co-operatives, etc.
- It’s a source of foreign exchange used to import unavailable commodities and develop other sectors of the economy.
- In Brazil it has led to infrastructural development as roads have been constructed to link estates to export cities.
- It also saves some foreign exchange that would otherwise be used to import coffee.
Problems Facing Coffee Farming
- Poor payment which causes farmers to neglect or uproot the crop and venture in other areas such as horticulture and dairying.
- Diseases e.g. C.B.D and leaf rust which reduce the coffee yields.
- Pests e.g. leaf miner which attacks coffee leaves causing them to fall off.
- Mismanagement of some co-operatives and embezzlement of funds by leaders which has caused some cooperatives to close up.
- Exhaustion of soil as coffee uses a lot of nutrients from the soil.
- Inadequate capital making the farmer unable to buy inputs such as fertilizers and chemicals leading to low production.
- Unreliable rainfall and drought conditions which causes young berries to ripen prematurely and fall off.
- Competition from other crops which have caused farmers to abandon coffee due to low prices.
How the Government Is Assisting Small Scale Farmers
- Carrying out research into new species of coffee and control of pests and diseases.
- Construction of new roads and improvement of the existing ones to enhance transportation of coffee.
- Providing extension workers through the ministry of agriculture to advice farmers on the best farming methods.
- Advancing loans to farmers through K.P.C.U. to assist them improve on their farming.
- It helps the farmers to market their produce through Coffee Board of Kenya.
- It holds courses and has set demonstration farms to update farmers on new farming methods. Brazil
The future of coffee production is unstable because coffee production has been declining due to the following
- Fluctuations of world prices which has forced some farmers to abandon coffee in favour of other crops.
- Diversification or introduction of new crops which fetch higher prices e.g. cotton, sugarcane, and maize which have lowered coffee production.
- Increased competition from other coffee producing countries such as Kenya, Columbia and W. Indies.
- Indiscriminate picking of ripe and unripe berries causing coffee quality to be among the lowest and thus fetching low prices in the international market.
- Climatic hazard of frost which has caused coffee to be replaced with less vulnerable crops such as sugarcane and Soya beans.
- Soil exhaustion as a result of exploiting the soil without renewing it which leads to low yields.
- Uncontrolled planting where by farmers plant more trees when there is coffee boom resulting in overproduction.
How the Government Is Responding To the Problems
- The government lobbies for higher quotas in the world market.
- Prohibiting new planting.
- Buying and storing surplus to artificially stabilise supply to maintain profit margins.
- Creation of artificial shortage of coffee in the world market by the institute for the permanent defence of coffee to maintain high prices.
- Encouraging crop diversification and mixed farming to reduce overdependence on coffee.