By George Munene
Kenya’s coffee production is forecast to dip by 10 per cent to 700,000 bags for the 2022-23 season due to lower yields caused by reduced fertilizer application.
Fertilizer prices in Kenya stand at Sh 6,000 per 50 kg bag, a 71 percent increase from the previous year.
Acording to the report by the US Department of Foreign Agriculture the area under coffee is expected to increase slightly, from 104,000 to 105,000 hectares as farmers respond to high coffee prices by rehabilitating abandoned trees in 2021/22 for future harvest.
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However, a shortage of planting materials, particularly coffee seeds, primarily supplied by the Kenya Coffee Research Institute (CRI) has curtailed the growth of new coffee plantations.
This year CRI estimates it will produce 136.078 kilograms of coffee seeds for development into seedlings compared to a demand of 1,360.7 to 1,814.3 kilograms of seeds.
Coffee exports are expected to decline to 670,000 bags from 750,000 bags due to lower production.
Domestic coffee consumption is expected to increase slightly, from 30,000 to 32,000 bags.
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While consumption is forecast to rise as Kenya’s tourism and restaurant sectors recover following the removal of COVID-19 restrictions, growth in domestic consumption will be constrained by high inflation, which is reducing consumer purchasing power.
Cyclical variations are also expected to drive down coffee yields. Arabica coffee undergoes a three-year cycle, with yields increasing over two years and then falling in the third. Many of Kenya’s coffee trees are primed to experience declining yields in 2022/23 after peaking in 2021/22.