Kenya sees coffee output rising 22 pct in next two crop years

NAIROBI Dec 18 (Reuters) – Kenya’s coffee output will rise 22 percent to about 60,000 tonnes in the next two crop years (Oct-Sept), thanks to new varieties and increasing area under cultivation, a senior government official said on Thursday.

Sicily Kariuki, principal secretary at the Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Ministry, told a news conference the aim was to raise production from about 49,000 tonnes in 2013/14, by introducing higher yielding coffee varieties and encouraging more farmers to take up the crop.

Kenya is a comparatively small coffee grower, producing less than 1 percent of world output in the 2013/14 crop year according to the International Coffee Organisation. But its speciality beans are renowned for their quality and are much sought after by roasters for blending with other coffees.

Coffee exports were at one time Kenya’s leading foreign exchange earner, but poor management in the sector reduced output from a record 130,000 tonnes in 1987/88. Many small-holder farmers disillusioned by poor earnings turned to other crops or sold land for real estate.

Kariuki said they were encouraging farmers, especially in western Kenya that are new to the crop, to start cultivating coffee, with an initial target of around 20,000 producers.

The government has over the years been trying to find new growers for the crop.

She said the government was also providing subsidised fertiliser to coffee farmers.

“We will be doing that again as we bring in new stocks of fertiliser in the coming season,” she said.