The coffee industry has been one of the key pillars of Kenya’s economy since independence from Britain in 1963. The sector has been a significant earner of foreign exchange for the economy and provider of jobs. However, the exposure of the industry to the world economy and other emerging challenges at home provide policy makers with a huge task of ensuring that this sector retains its relevance and importance to Kenya’s economy.
- Climate Change & Unpredictable Rainfall.
Currently, climate change is leading to rising temperatures and new rainfall patterns that may threaten the Arabica coffee species.
- Price Fluctuation & Unreliable Incomes.
The coffee sector is prone to systemic risk and price shocks, occasioned by global supply chains, which has resulted in the farm gate prices of cherry coffee oscillate between US $ 0.2 and US $ 0.8 per kg with a high of USD 0.9 per kg recorded this year. Both commodity-grade and specialty-grade coffee producers are affected by price fluctuations. The commodity-grade price (C price) is based primarily on the NY Commodity Exchange. Unfortunately, the C price is based on supply and demand – not the cost of farming. Due to these fluctuations, producers are unable to predict pricing trends and plan ahead.
- Competition from other crops.
Because of many problems that coffee farmers are facing, some have neglected the coffee trees in favour of other horticultural crops e.g. avocadoes.
- Low farmers’ incomes that make coffee unprofitable and therefore unattractive to the youth. The average age of coffee farmers is about 60 years. This has removed vigour/energy from coffee farming resulting in decline in production.