Coffee is one of Kenya’s primary foreign exchange earners. However, over the years its production has decreased to a meager 40,000 tonnes per year, down from a peak of 150,000 tonnes.
Farmers abandoning the crop due to poor returns, adverse effects of climate change, and an aging farming population has contributed to the decline.
To prevent the sector from suffering the same fate as pyrethrum, Kenya has intensified efforts to increase production in order to compete with successful producers such as Ethiopia, one of the world’s leading exporters of the Arabica variety.
To achieve the targeted production, government and non-government actors have developed new varieties that can withstand harsher climatic conditions and created new technologies to increase yields as part of a coffee revitalisation programme.
The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) has been developing technologies to protect farmers from climate change and pests and diseases.
Harrison Mugo, a research scientist with Kalro at Coffee Research Institute (CRI), states that the institution has developed a new technology that enables farmers to continue harvesting their old variety while the new one, which is grafted to the old tree, matures.