The coffee industry is an important sub-sector within the agricultural sector.
In the 1980s to late 90s, coffee accounted for about 2,1 percent of gross domestic production racking in about an equivalent of USD$54 million on annual basis.
Owing to a myriad of factors, such as climate change and low market prices, the production of the crop has fallen drastically in yesteryears.
The introduction of a market based-production approach has resulted in an upward-trajectory of the coffee production in Zimbabwe.
According to the second round of the crop and livestock assessment report by Agritex, the production increased by 12 percent to 681 metric tonnes this season. The crop is grown by a few large-scale commercial farmers and more than 2000 small-scale farmers.
Coffee bean is used to produce coffee which is the 3rd most consumed beverage after water and tea.
A private sector partnership between Nespresso and Technoserve to assist farmers in producing coffee has breathed life into the industry. Market guarantee, technical support, premium prices, and value addition are some of the positive fruits coming out of this partnership which commenced in 2017.
The farmers are being paid a premium price of US$6,50/kg which is above the average New York price of US$5,00/kg.
Zimbabwe has ideal climatic conditions for coffee production particularly in the Eastern Highlands. Coffea arabica and C. canephora; family Rubiaceae represent the two major species of coffee plants and are native to Africa.
Zimbabwe grows a variety of Arabica coffees. The country has the ideal climatic conditions for this type of coffee.
According to Mr Bhunu from Technoserve, ‘the different varieties grown are Catimor 129, Costa Rica, SL28, F6, K7, and Catuai. each variety is grown for its specific strengths. The majority (90 percent) of farmers grow Catimor 129 for its tolerance to coffee leaf rust and coffee berry disease. Temperature and amount of rainfall is depended on altitude”.
He further added that “the optimal altitude is expected to be between 900 – 2 000m above sea level. Coffee preferred humid conditions above 50 percent at 1400hrs to dry conditions hence more than 1,100mm of rainfall was required per annum. When the rainfall was more than 2 000mm, the plant would be too cold and wet for spraying.
This was likely to expose the coffee crop to fungal diseases. Temperatures range of 20-26 degrees Celsius is ideal for coffee. The coffee plants are grown for the seeds, or beans, which are roasted, grounded, and sold for brewing coffee.
Coffee yield, on average is 1,5 tonnes per hectare within smallholder farming set ups. The crop requires three years of investment before harvesting commences.
The Coffee Mill Chairperson Mr Brown indicated that the third year after establishment yields about 25 percent of the average well established crop and the average life of the coffee plant in the smallholder set up is on average, 12 years. This gives a total income flow to year 12 of around US$60 000,00 at a rate of US$5 000,00 per tonne. Average total variable costs stand at US$21 984,00 on average giving a gross margin of about US$38 016,00.
The Coffee Mill based in Mutare forms the backbone of the coffee industry and was founded in the year 1992 to aggregate, grade, and market coffee from farmers. Nespresso developed a unique brand of coffee named Tamuka mu Zimbabwe and is selling in over 23 countries across the globe. This is in line with the National Development Strategy 1 which seeks to guide the country to an upper and prosperous middle-income economy by 2030.
The main challenges affecting the growth of the industry is access to patient capital by the farmers and the 60-40 percent forex retention ratio. On the production front, the largest producer is Brazil. Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia are all significant producers of coffee.
These top five producers account for over 70 percent of the world’s total production.
Word from the market is a column produced by the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) to promote market driven production of agricultural crops. Feedback
This article was written by Peter Mudzimiri, AMA Head of Compliance. Word from the market is a weekly column produced by the Agricultural Marketing Authority.