Key Challenges Contributing to Poor Coffee Prices
- Over dependence on raw coffee markets where prices are very unpredictable;
- Minimal participation of farmers in the value chain business beyond primary processing; The small holder coffee farmer has been bearing the brunt of the long chain of middlemen in the coffee sale process. As a consequence, he has, over a considerable period, been grossly underpaid for his coffee crop, and gradually sunk to lower levels of poverty despite being the grower of the #2 most traded commodity in the world.
- Minimal local consumption; Kenyans, unlike the people of coffee growing countries such as Brazil, Colombia and Ethiopia, do not consume much of their coffee. Ethiopians consume over 50% of their coffee, Brazil’s domestic consumption is about 60% while Kenyans consumesless than 2%. Some of the reasons are that it is expensive, a cup requires some art or expensive equipment to prepare and that it is for the high class in society. These notions need to be demystified.
- Succession challenges; This refers to poor prices that have resulted in low farmer incomes making coffee unprofitable and therefore unattractive to the youth. The average age of coffee farmers is about 60 years. This has removed vigour and energy from coffee farming resulting in declines in production and earnings.