Bumper coffee harvests were supposed to fuel Burundi’s recovery from three years of political upheaval. Tell that to Jean Ntungiyabandi, one local farmer who’s just called it quits.
The tiny East African nation, which counts Starbucks Corp. among its customers and gets at least 80 percent of its foreign exchange from coffee, wants to double output by 2023. But delays in local payments are squeezing its 60,000 small-scale producers, complicating plans to revive the economy as Burundi tries to recover from an economic and political crisis that’s claimed at least a thousand lives.
“Coffee, as far as I’m concerned, is finished,” said Ntungiyabandi, a father of five who has a small plot in Mwaro, central Burundi, and previously grew as much as 300 kilograms (661 pounds) a year. “I will exploit my land in another way.”