COFFEE

Coffee or Green Coffee is legally the 2nd most highly traded commodity across the world and cultivated in more than 70 countries, especially in Southeast Asia and Latin America. It’s also regarded as world’s 7th biggest agricultural export. The largest producers are Vietnam, Brazil, Colombia, India and Indonesia.

Kenya produces almost exclusively washed Arabica Coffee of the Bourbon type although there is a very small production of Robusta Coffee that is grown in the low altitude areas. The two most common sources of coffee beans are the highly regarded Coffea arabica, and the "robusta" form of the hardier Coffea canephora. Today around 250,000 Kenyans are employed in the production of coffee. Most is produced by small land holders that are members of cooperatives that process their own coffee.

The major production of this Arabica is type SL28, SL34, K7 and Ruiru 11. Coffee is one of the most important cash crops in Kenya. It is grown in large scale plantations (42,000 ha from 2001-2005) as well as by small scale holders (128,000 ha from 2001-2005) giving a total production of about 50,000 tons annually. The main variety in Kenya is Arabica coffee. The stimulating effect of the coffee beverage is largely derived from the alkaloid caffeine, but cured beans have to be roasted and finely ground to bring out the characteristic coffee aroma. In some producer countries, roasting of locally available coffee in the home is very common and the brew is prepared by pouring hot water over freshly roasted and ground coffee beans. An important constituent of the coffee bean is caffeine. The free caffeine content in a bean is dependant on the coffee type, variety, the site conditions and other factors, and can be more than 2.5%.

Economically, the most important coffee varieties are Coffea arabica called Arabica and Coffea canephora called Robusta. In comparison with Arabica, almost 30 % higher yields are gained from Robusta, although the price is around 30% lower. Coffee is mainly grown as a beverage, though the plant residues can provide fuel (coffee charcoal or wood) and a good mulch.

Coffee is an important cash crop in Kenya due to its contribution to foreign exchange earnings, farm incomes, rural development, employment generation and food security, especially to smallholder coffee growers who belong to cooperative societies. Currently, it is estimated that about 135,000 hectares of land is under coffee in Kenya, of which about 67 per cent is in the cooperative sub-sector and 33 per cent is in the estates. The importance of the coffee sector in Kenya’s economy is reflected in the direct relationship between sector performance and key economic indicators.

Globally, coffee is the world's second most valuable traded commodity, behind only petroleum. There are approximately 25 million farmers and coffee workers in over 50 countries involved in producing coffee around the world. Coffee was traditionally developed as a colonial cash crop, planted by serfs or wage laborers in tropical climates on large plantations of landowners for sale in colonial countries. Coffee producers, like most agricultural workers around the world, are kept in a cycle of poverty and debt by the current global economy designed to exploit cheap labor and keep consumer prices low. An estimated 11 million hectares of the world's farmland are dedicated to coffee cultivation. The largest producer and exporter is Brazil, followed by Colombia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Mexico. Around the globe, the annual consumption of coffee has expanded to 12 billion pounds.

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