Kenya’s coffee crashes due to high temperatures,low prices;farmers shift to banana,avocado

The higher-quality variety Arabica coffee which grows in cool temperatures and high altitudes are dying due to rising temperatures making them susceptible to diseases such as coffee leaf rust.Farmers stops growing coffee and started growing banana,avocado.

Farmer Shadrack Wambua Mutisya has been growing coffee up a winding hill southeast of the Kenyan capital for 40 years but he’s replaced most of his bushes with banana, macadamia and avocado trees.

“Every year it gets hotter,” he said. In Mutisya’s home county of Machakos, more than three quarters of the 200,000 farmers active in the 1980s have given up, said county cooperative union head Martin Muliya. Machakos is Kenya’s tenth largest coffee producing county.

Kenya produces only 0.5% of global coffee but plays an outsize role in the high-quality market, as “the ‘champagne’ region for coffee”, said Matthew Harrison, buyer at speciality coffee sourcing company Trabocca.

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“The diminishing volume is very concerning for the speciality coffee world,” he said.

Kenya’s coffee production is tumbling – the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts the 2019/20 harvest will hit a 57-year low.

Largely mechanized mega-producers such as Brazil and Vietnam have grabbed more than half the global market from small-scale speciality producers, U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows. 

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Cameroonian production is the lowest on record. The El Salvador harvest has fallen by half over a decade, while Ecuador’s output has fallen even more steeply.

Low prices mean farmers won’t invest in planting shade trees, disease-resistant seeds, or new irrigation.

Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi could soon stop growing coffee altogether, said Charles Agwanda, commodities coordinator at the Center for Agriculture and Biosciences International.

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