|Wednesday 11th of December 2019
Saving the African grey parrot @FinancialTimes
The first thing to know about the African grey parrot is that it is
not grey. Not entirely at least. The medium-sized bird, which lives in
forests in west and central Africa, has electric-red tail feathers
that make it a target for poachers, who use the plumage for ceremonial
headdresses. Its body parts are used in traditional medicine.
Unfortunately for the African grey, these are the least of the
A highly intelligent animal capable of mimicking human speech and
which can live in captivity up to the age of 60, it has also been a
sought-after pet since biblical times.
in an era when the international pet trade has reached industrial
proportions, the demand — from the Middle East and Asia as well as
Europe and North America — threatens the African grey’s long-term
existence in the wild.
The parrot inhabits a strip of equatorial forest that runs from Ivory
Coast through Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon and into the Democratic
Republic of Congo.
In Ghana, where poaching has been intense, the population has fallen
more than 90 per cent since the early 1990s, according to estimates.
Numbers of birds in other countries are difficult to gauge, but
experts at the Zoological Society of London, the FT’s Seasonal Appeal
partner for 2019, say they are falling sharply.
So acute has the problem become that the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) outlawed
trade of the African grey altogether in 2016.
Before the ban, about 1.3m parrots had been exported legally since
1980, according to estimates, excluding the hundreds of thousands that
likely died during trapping and transportation.
Conservationists are divided over the efficacy of the ban. Samuel
Nebaneh, a law enforcement co-ordinator in Cameroon, which has a large
population of grey parrots, welcomes it. “It has had a positive
effect. Some parrots have been seized and traffickers have been sent
to trial,” he said.
An African grey can retail for £1,000.
Pamela Watson, an author who kept two African greys when she lived in
the Nigerian city of Lagos, said the Cites ban was inadequate without
work at village level to give people alternative incomes.
“They’re not able to stop it because the traffickers are armed. This
is a huge business. There are international gangs behind this,” said
Ms Watson, who now lives in London and has been unable to obtain an
export licence for her parrots, which remain with friends in Lagos.
After having the parrots for years and realising how intelligent they
were, she said, she would not now advocate keeping them in captivity.
I had a Parrot called Basil when I was a Teenager. 30 Years later I
was at Dinner at a Friend's in Mombasa and He said I have your Parrot
And You know he was so happy to see me - It was extraordinary.
Indian business breaks ranks as economic strain takes its toll @FinancialTimes
Indian industrialists tend to be cautious in publicly criticising
their country’s political leaders and policy direction, influenced
maybe by that adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say
anything at all”.
But Rahul Bajaj, the 81-year-old chairman of the Bajaj Group, is an
exception. Grandson of one of the independence leader Mahatma Gandhi’s
closest confidants, the industrialist has a reputation for being
His public remarks are often seen as a barometer of corporate India’s
wider sentiment, which few others are willing to express.
That is why Mr Bajaj raised hackles in New Delhi last week, when he
publicly suggested that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has
created an “atmosphere of fear”, with a chilling effect on the
business community that had once cheered Mr Modi’s rise to national
The setting was a glitzy corporate awards ceremony in Mumbai — the
type of function typically characterised by fawning and
self-congratulation among India’s business and political elites.
But with India in the grip of a sharp economic slowdown, Mr Bajaj
suggested that many industrialists are too anxious about offending a
notoriously prickly government to offer their honest assessments of
what has gone wrong.
During the previous Congress administration, “we could criticise
anybody”, Mr Bajaj told three cabinet ministers, including finance
minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on the dais.
Today, “we do not have the confidence that if we criticise something
that you will appreciate it”.
Mr Modi’s closest lieutenant, Amit Shah, sought to dispel these
concerns. “Nobody needs to be afraid,” Mr Shah, the home minister,
said. “But if such an atmosphere as you are talking about has been
created, we will also have to try and improve that.”
On social media, though, other ministers displayed precisely the kind
of defensiveness to which Mr Bajaj had alluded. Sharing a video of the
Ms Sitharaman advised other potential corporate malcontents that there
was “always a better way to seek an answer than spreading one’s own
impressions, which . . . can hurt the national interest.”
Former top diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri, now minister of housing and
urban affairs, tweeted, “that Mr Rahul Bajaj could stand up to Amit
Shah’s face, express himself freely, instigate others to join him,
clearly indicates that freedom of expression & democratic values are
alive & flourishing in India”.
Few business leaders openly endorsed Mr Bajaj’s comments. But there
can be little doubt that corporate India’s former ardour for Mr Modi
has cooled, amid dismay about his government’s economic stewardship,
and its apparent hostility towards critical policy feedback.
Since Mr Modi’s dramatic 2016 cash ban, his administration has claimed
that it is waging a war against crony capitalism, necessary to purify
the economy after decades of corrupt practices during the
socialist-era “license raj” and thereafter.
Few established Indian corporate houses have such unsullied pasts that
their controlling families can sleep peacefully, without worrying what
skeletons a vindictive government could unearth from their closets.
In private, businessmen talk of receiving phone calls from irritated
ministers if they are seen to be publicly questioning government
Little wonder that many industrialists feel it is best to lie low,
rather than risk being targeted by thin-skinned politicians, in a
country where investigative agencies have been used to settle
Fear of the government’s intolerance (and possible retribution) is so
strong that even when called to meet top leaders behind closed doors,
some businessmen are still reluctant to speak frankly.
But the Modi government can ill-afford such an anxious, alienated
business community. After six consecutive quarters of economic
deceleration, New Delhi needs a coherent recovery plan, which first
requires a vigorous debate about why the economy is going off the
Private industry must be part of that discourse. Mr Modi’s government
must recognise that silencing the flow of honest policy feedback,
whether intentionally or not, is ultimately self-defeating.
Sub Saharan Africa
"War is the epitome of hell for all involved," Abiy, who served as a radio operator in Ethiopian army said in his Nobel lecture in Oslo on Tuesday. "I know because I have been there and back." @markets
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for
forging an end to almost two decades of conflict with neighboring
Eritrea, described how his personal exposure to the horrors it wrought
drove him to seek a rapprochement.
“War is the epitome of hell for all involved,” Abiy, who served as a
radio operator in the Ethiopian army and was the only survivor of an
artillery attack on his unit during the war, said in his Nobel lecture
in Oslo on Tuesday. “I know because I have been there and back.”
Abiy, 43, became Africa’s youngest leader when he was appointed prime
minister in March 2018, and immediately announced a swathe of
political and economic reforms.
Three months later, he and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki agreed a
peace accord to end a stalemate that followed a 1998-2000 border war
in which as many as 100,000 people died.
Abiy described Isaias as his partner and said his goodwill and
commitment played a vital role in bringing about the deal that
persuaded the United Nations to lift decade-old sanctions on Eritrea.
“We understood our nations are not enemies,” the Ethiopian leader said
in a prepared speech. “Instead, we were victims of the common enemy
called poverty. We recognized that while our two nations were stuck on
old grievances, the world was shifting rapidly and leaving us behind.”
While parts of the peace accord remain unimplemented, including
territorial demarcations outlined by a 2002 boundary commission and
the reopening of several border crossings, Abiy described the two
nations’ commitment to peace as “iron-clad.”
At home, Abiy’s unbanning of Ethiopian opposition and rebel groups,
has stoked political fragmentation and long-suppressed rivalries among
That’s led regional groups to intensify calls for more
self-determination. Reforms have also faced mounting opposition from
anti-government groups and within the ruling party, which has
factionalized under his rule.
Abiy said the returns of reform would be seen in the years to come,
and that his administration remained committed to maintaining
multiparty democracy, media freedom and human rights.
Abiy’s visit to Norway was also marked by his decision not to attend a
press conference -- traditionally an integral part of the Nobel Peace
Prize award program.
In unusual criticism of a laureate, the head of the Norwegian Nobel
Committee said last week the snub was “very unfortunate.”
The Nobel Committee went as far as sending its secretary to Addis
Ababa to try to convince Abiy to talk to the press during his visit,
but to no avail, said Chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen.
U.S. President Barack Obama also skipped the press conference when he
claimed the prize in 2009, taking only two questions from selected
Born on Aug. 15, 1976, in the small town of Beshasha in Ethiopia’s
Oromia state, Abiy holds masters degrees in business administration
and transformational leadership and a PhD in traditional conflict
He’s served as a lieutenant-colonel in the Ethiopian National Defense
Force, an acting director of the country’s cyber-security intelligence
agency and science and technology minister.
Reiss-Andersen said Abiy has seized the initiative during the
transition in power in Ethiopia to swiftly address the deadlock in the
standoff with Eritrea, and was the main architect behind the peace
“You have chosen a path that we believe will consolidate peace and
prosperity in your country,” she said. “You represent a new generation
of African leaders who realize that armed conflict and ethnic
hostilities must be resolved by peaceful means.”
The peace prize, along with awards in literature, physics and
medicine, was created by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel and first
awarded in 1901.
Abiy is the second successive African recipient -- in 2018, Congolese
doctor Denis Mukwege was the joint winner of the award for his work
against sexual violence.
Past laureates include former South African President Nelson Mandela
and U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
14-OCT-2019 :: Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed Ali was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019
The Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed Ali was awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize for 2019 by the Norwegian Nobel Committee and indeed it
was a well-deserved award.
In July 2018, I wrote: '’These 90 or so days represent the most
consequential arrival of an African politician on the African stage
since Mandela walked out of prison blinking in the sunlight and
constructed his ‘’rainbow nation’’’’
And whilst he faces a fiendishly complicated task fending off the
centripetal forces which are tearing Ethiopia apart, the Prime
Minister who has a singular self-belief in his destiny is a Virilian
figure and a c21st African Leader which is a scarce commodity.
“Whoever controls the territory possesses it. Possession of territory
is not primarily about laws and contracts, but first and foremost a
matter of movement and circulation.”
02-JUL-2018 :: Abiy Ahmed Ali (Amharic: , Oromo: Abiyyi Ahimad Alii; born 15 August 1976) was appointed the 12th Prime Minister of Ethiopia on 2 April 2018.
He grew up in a Muslim family (Ah- med Ali, his Oromo father; Tezeta
Wolde, his mother) and with Oromo Muslim and Christian grandparents.
He is evidently a Virilian and Gladwellian Figure.
“To create one contagious movement, you often have to create many
small movements first.” “Look at the world around you. It may seem
like an immovable, implacable place. It is not, With the slightest
push—in just the right place—it can be tipped.”—Malcolm Gladwell .
He has been Prime Minster for 90 days. During those 90 days, he has
criss-crossed the country, ended a state of emergency, released
thousands of political prisoners, thawed relations with Eritrea [29
Mar 2018 HE Abiy Ahmed @PM_AbiyAhmed - It is time. Lets build a wall
of love between #Ethiopia & #Eritrea], bagged a $1b from the UAE,
announced a dramatic economic about-turn. In matters language and
linguistics, he has tapped into a ‘’Nelson Mandela’’ 1994 mood.
These 90 or so days represent the most consequential arrival of an
African politician on the African stage since Mandela walked out of
prison blinking in the sunlight and constructed his ‘’rainbow
I was watching the France-Argentina game and the arrival of Kylian
Mbappe on the world stage at the tender age of 19.
I recalled watching the Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi order on a
night of a full moon in Konya, Turkey. I thought what they all have in
common with Abiy Ahmed.
It’s all about speed and velocity. Paul Virilio terms it ‘dromology’,
which he defined as the “science (or logic) of speed“.
He notes that the speed at which something happens may change its
essential nature, and that which moves with speed quickly comes to
dominate that which is slower.
“Whoever controls the territory possesses it. Possession of territory
is not primarily about laws and contracts, but first and foremost a
matter of movement and circulation.”
Virilio argues that the traditional feudal fortified city disappeared
because of the increasing sophistication of weapons and possibilities
for warfare. For Virilio, the concept of siege warfare became rather a
war of movement.
Abiy Ahmed has moved at lightning speed, the old guard is like ‘’the
traditional feudal fortified city’’.
He said “The ppl of Tigray are still begging for a drop of water; TPLF
(the party) is not the people of Tigray”.
On the same day he said, “we are in debt, we have to pay back but we
can’t. And secondarily, we aren’t able to finish projects we have
started” and announced his economic Pivot.
Of course, the downside risk of all this infrastructure is plain to
see and Sri Lanka and the tale of its Hambantota Port is now a
FX reserves were at less than a month’s worth of imports and something
needed to be done. Expectations are high.
The Prime Minister needs to execute real quick on the economic front
but if he levels the playing Field, a whole Troop of folks will be
looking to pile in.
That Troop will include the Ethiopian Diaspora, Foreign Investors and
I am sure our very own Safaricom.
Abiy Ahmed’s first 90 days have been as remarkable as the less than 90
minutes of France’s Mbappe’s performance on Saturday.
Former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos will probably be asked to testify in court after his son and three others who are accused of embezzlement and money laundering said they were just following his orders. @bpolitics
The trial that began Monday in the capital, Luanda, is expected to
shed light on the inner dealings of Dos Santos’s almost four-decade
The two most high-profile defendants are his 41-year-old son Jose
Filomeno and former central bank Governor Valter Filipe da Silva, who
were arrested after illegally transferring $500 million to a bank
account in the U.K. weeks before Dos Santos stepped down.
The crimes are “nonexistent” because the accused acted on the orders
of the executive, lawyers for the four defendants said in a statement
to the court, according to Angola’s state-owned news agency Angop.
Jose Filomeno appeared in court both Monday and Tuesday but wasn’t
required to speak. Da Silva, who received medical assistance in court
on Monday after feeling unwell, was absent Tuesday.
The court accepted the request by the defendants for the former
president to be questioned, Angop said.
The money transfer served as an advance payment to a company created
by the defendants to set up a financing operation of more than $30
billion through a so-called strategic investment fund, according to
the Angolan news site Novo Jornal.
British authorities returned the money to Angola after the transfer
was detected. The government spent more than $10 million in legal fees
to recover the funds, Novo Jornal reported, citing an official from
the public prosecutor’s office.
Jose Filomeno headed Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund from
2013 until January last year, when he was dismissed by his father’s
successor, President Joao Lourenco. He is among several prominent
figures who’ve lost influential positions since Lourenco took the helm
of Africa’s second-biggest oil producer two years ago.
Lourenco, who has made battling graft a cornerstone of his government,
has rejected allegations he is conducting a witch hunt against the
family of his predecessor and its allies.
Angola is ranked one of the world’s most corrupt nations by
09-DEC-2019 :: Time to Big Up the Dosage of Quaaludes
I could have written about the Banana that was duct taped to a Wall at
Art Basel Miami Baech, sold for $120,000.00 and then eaten by a Fellow
called David Datuna. Perrotin Gallery spokesman Lucien Terras told the
Herald that Datuna did not "destroy" the artwork because "the banana
is the idea" I could have written about How ''The presidents free
lawyer took Wizz Air to Ukraine for all the Criming'' [@MollyJongFast]
However, What with the Victoria Falls now a trickle, a Famine
ravaging the Land in Southern Africa, Floods and Desert Locust swarms
in Eastern Africa, Buildings collapsing in Nairobi, You might finding
yourself turning to the Bible and reading verses about the signs of
the End Times. Luke 21:11 There will be great earthquakes, and in
various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and
great signs from heaven.Revelation 6:12-13 When he opened the sixth
seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun
became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the
stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter
fruit when shaken by a gale.And then You might cast your Mind back a
few years and recall the IMF's Africa Rising conference in 2014 when I
quaffed the most flavoursome Tiger Prawns and in between mouthfuls the
conversation was all about how Africa was finally rising and Fund
Managers from far and wide were salivating at double digit local
currency yields and life was hunky dory and so peachy.
Zambian Kwacha Rebounds as Central Bank Raises Reserve Ratio @markets
Zambia’s kwacha staged a comeback on Tuesday after the central bank
raised the amount of funds that commercial lenders must deposit at the
The currency of Africa’s second-biggest copper producer climbed 6.2%
to 14.3750 per dollar by 5:20 p.m. in Lusaka, the capital.
By Monday, the kwacha had lost more than a fifth of its value against
the dollar this year and had fallen to a record low, threatening to
add to pressure on inflation that’s already at 10.8%.
The Bank of Zambia responded by raising the reserve ratio for
commercial lenders to 9% from 5%, effective Dec. 23. It had already
raised its key lending rate by the most since 2015 in the past month,
and increased the costs of overnight lending in a bid to stop the
Foreign exchange reserves near the lowest in a decade mean the bank is
constrained from selling dollars to bolster its currency.
Still, the central bank’s efforts to support the currency “will have
to be short-term given the tighter liquidity conditions,”
Johannesburg-based FirstRand Ltd.’s RMB said in a note.
Zambia’s economic expansion is already forecast to be less than 2%
this year, the lowest in more than two decades, and less than
Higher interest rates and reserve ratios may curb borrowing by the
private sector, hurting growth further.
09-DEC-2019 :: The kwacha's depreciation is "regrettable" and the central bank is looking at ways to arrest the slide, Vice President Inonge Wina told lawmakers Friday in Lusaka, the capital.
Bloomberg also reported that Zambia’s kwacha fell the most against the
dollar in four years and may continue to slide to record lows as
“panic buying” of the U.S. currency sets in, according to FNB Zambia.
The currency depreciated by as much as 5.3% to 15.5750 per dollar,
bringing its drop so far this year to 21% and making it the world’s
third-worst performer in 2019.
Thursday was the first time it reached 15 per dollar. Zambia’s economy
has been ravaged by a regional drought and repeated budget deficits
that have sent government debt soaring.
Economic growth won’t reach 2% this year, according to the
International Monetary Fund, while sovereign debt will end 2019 at
91.6% of gross domestic product.
Currency weakness makes servicing foreign loans more costly and could
also drive up an inflation rate that’s already at 10.8%, the highest
The kwacha’s depreciation is “regrettable” and the central bank is
looking at ways to arrest the slide, Vice President Inonge Wina told
lawmakers Friday in Lusaka, the capital.
They are still popping Quaaludes in Lusaka
Uganda will spend as much as a fifth of government revenue on interest payments in this financial year and the @IMFNews warned @economics
That’s equivalent to what countries that are close to or in debt
distress spend on servicing credit, according to the IMF’s country
Resident Representative Clara Mira.
While the country remains at a low risk of debt distress, “there are
vulnerabilities and interest payments are high,” Mira said Tuesday in
emailed responses to questions.
“There are less resources available to finance the remaining needs.”
President Yoweri Museveni’s administration is struggling to fund its
2019-20 budget of 40.5 trillion shillings ($11 billion) partly because
it will collect less revenue than expected after delays to implement
certain tax measures.
The government plans to borrow 600 million euros ($665 million) from
Standard Bank Group Ltd.’s local unit and Trade & Development Bank to
help plug the fiscal gap.
The assessment that Uganda is at a low risk of debt distress is based
on assumptions that its infrastructure investments will start paying
off, revenue will improve and planned oil exports begin in 2023,
according to Mira.
Vulnerabilities include spending pressures and slow economic growth, she said.
The government “will stabilize expenditure and raise more domestic
revenue,” said Keith Muhakanizi, the secretary to the Treasury.
The administration will also try and avoid the accumulation of
domestic arrears, Muhakanizi said separately on Monday.
Africa's @amazon hopeful Jumia retreats from big expansion @FT
Jumia, the pan-African ecommerce company, will close its business in
Rwanda, just weeks after it exited Cameroon and Tanzania, in the
latest sign of retrenchment for the one-time unicorn whose share price
has fallen nearly 90 per cent from its high after listing in Wall
Street in April.
The closures bring Jumia’s footprint in Africa to 11 countries and
point to the difficulty of running an ecommerce business across a
continent with weak infrastructure, under-developed logistics and a
general lack of trust in online shopping.
It also puts a dent in what the Rocket Internet-backed company has
long touted as one of its key advantages: scale.
Sacha Poignonnec, co-chief executive, said the exits were routine, as
the company reassesses its markets, products and services. He noted
that in the past, it had left countries such as Mozambique and closed
its ride-hailing business.
On Tuesday, Jumia also said it is in effect shutting its travel website.
“It’s a continuity of recent changes and the strategy is very much for
us, it’s very simple, we are engaged in taking Jumia to profitability
and drive penetration of JumiaPay,” he said, referring to the
company’s payments platform.
“Sometimes we make decisions to change the scope of countries or
categories . . . but it is in the normal life of a company to adjust
the focus, but the strategy remains very much the same.”
Mr Poignonnec emphasised the need to control costs. Losses grew to
€54.6m in the third quarter from €40.6m a year earlier, while revenues
missed analyst estimates for the second time in three quarters. Jumia
has run up more than $1bn in losses since launching in 2012 in
But Mr Poignonnec cited the success of Amazon, China’s Alibaba and
Latin America’s Mercado Libre as proof that the model Jumia is
pursuing can work. He pointed to Jumia’s rising customer and seller
numbers as positive signs.
As part of its growth strategy, the company has shifted focus toward
its JumiaPay fintech platform, on which transaction volume nearly
doubled to €32m in the third quarter from a year earlier.
Fintech is the hottest tech sector in Africa, with nearly $400m
pouring into three Nigeria-based start-ups in a week in November as
venture capital firms bet on companies trying to bring online the
roughly 99 per cent of African transactions that are done in cash.
Jumia believes its payments service will be key to unlocking ecommerce.
Investors have so far been unconvinced.
Jumia listed on the New York Stock Exchange to great fanfare in April,
becoming the first Africa-focused start-up worth more than $1bn.
Shares peaked at $49.77 weeks after their debut but have steadily
fallen to $5.96, giving it a market capitalisation of just $458.3m,
about a tenth of its all-time high.
In May shares fell by roughly a quarter after the short seller Citron
Research released a report accusing the company of fraud, which it
Observers said Jumia faces competition from companies that ship to
Africa from overseas, such as Amazon, and local small businesses that
are increasingly offering online shopping.
“If I want an iPhone, Jumia will say it takes 21 days, and Amazon will
send it in a week, they will remove the VAT and deliver it straight to
my door,” said Uzoma Dozie, a tech investor who was chief executive of
Nigeria’s Diamond Bank.
“With Jumia it’s a different story altogether — it will cost more, it
will arrive later and then there is the trust issue.”
He also pointed to the advantages small sellers have over a behemoth
such as Jumia.
“Small businesses on Instagram are beginning to eat into Jumia . .
.[by] doing things faster, cheaper and with a sense of security,” he
said. People are willing to buy on Instagram because “when you go to
Instagram, they see pictures of people they know wearing the clothes —
there’s not that social aspect to it on Jumia, which is more
Kenya's coffee crop nosedives due to high temperatures, low prices @ReutersAfrica
Kenya’s farmers are grubbing up their coffee bushes to plant other
crops as low prices and climate change drive small growers to the
brink of collapse.
Arabica coffee, the higher-quality variety that Kenya grows, ends up
in speciality beverages from Berlin to San Francisco.
The plant thrives in moderate temperatures and high altitudes. But
rising temperatures are scorching plants, making them susceptible to
diseases such as coffee leaf rust.
Farmer Shadrack Wambua Mutisya has been growing coffee up a winding
hill southeast of the Kenyan capital for 40 years but he’s replaced
most of his bushes with banana, macadamia and avocado trees.
“Now we see diseases that we never saw before,” said Mutisya, 67, his
dark brown eyes tinged with the blue of old age.
Average Kenyan temperatures have risen by 0.3 degrees per decade since
1985, according to USAID. More erratic rainfall is reducing quality
In the 1960s, Kenya averaged one storm day - more than 50 millimetres
in 24 hours - per year, said Joseph Kimemia, vice chairman of the
African Fine Coffees Association board. In 2017, there were five storm
days. That damages fragile roots and throws off the ripening cycle.
“Every year it gets hotter,” he said.
Kenya produces only 0.5% of global coffee but plays an outsize role in
the high-quality market, as “the ‘champagne’ region for coffee”, said
Matthew Harrison, buyer at speciality coffee sourcing company
“The diminishing volume is very concerning for the speciality coffee
world,” he said.
Kenya’s coffee production is tumbling – the U.S. Department of
Agriculture forecasts the 2019/20 harvest will hit a 57-year low.
Anecdotal evidence shows the number of coffee farmers falling, but
there’s no national statistics because there hasn’t been a coffee
census in two decades, said the national coffee directorate.
In Mutisya’s home county of Machakos, more than three quarters of the
200,000 farmers active in the 1980s have given up, said county
cooperative union head Martin Muliya. Machakos is Kenya’s tenth
largest coffee producing county.
Global coffee prices plunged to 2005 lows of 86 cents per pound this
year, far below the cost of production in most of the world,
especially Kenya, where beans are hand-picked. Prices have recovered
to $1.18 per pound – but there’s still a glut.
Largely mechanised mega-producers such as Brazil and Vietnam have
grabbed more than half the global market from small-scale speciality
producers, U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows.
Cameroonian production is the lowest on record. The El Salvador
harvest has fallen by half over a decade, while Ecuador’s output has
fallen even more steeply.
Low prices mean farmers won’t invest in planting shade trees,
disease-resistant seeds, or new irrigation.
Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi could soon stop growing coffee altogether,
said Charles Agwanda, commodities coordinator at the Centre for
Agriculture and Biosciences International.
“Then it will be a crisis for everyone, including the consumers,” said Agwanda.