Kenya’s coffee board plans to crack down on illegal exports of the beans to boost official production to 51,000 metric tons of the crop this year, Managing Director Loise Wanjira Njeru said.
Last year, output was recorded at 36,629 tons in the 12 months through September when the actual figure may have been about 50,000 tons, Njeru said in an interview in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, yesterday.
“The biggest next agenda is going to be how we track the coffee moving out,” she said. “We believe that the unofficial channels would account for the balance.”
Kenya earned $221.7 million from the crop last year, compared with $171.3 million a year earlier, according to the Kenya Coffee Producers and Traders Association. Output may reach 70,000 tons within the five years as a debt-write off for farmers and investment in inputs such as fertilizers boost productivity, Njeru said. Yields should be at least 5 kilograms (11 pounds) per tree instead of the current 2 kilograms, according to Njeru.
“If we have 50 percent of farmers at 5 kilograms we would still be able to make the 70,000 tons” target, she said. “Productivity is our biggest undoing.”
Kenya also plans to grow coffee in new areas after plantations were lost to real-estate development, said Njeru. “We will shift to the west of the Rift Valley where we still have huge tracts of land suitable for coffee growing,” she said.