May 25, 2019 / 8:39 AM / 25 days ago

Kenya 2019-20 coffee output to plunge to more than 50-yr low -USDA

Coffee beans are pictured at a Nairobi Java House outlet in Nairobi, Kenya May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kenyan coffee production in 2019-20 is seen dropping to 650,000 bags, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) attache in Nairobi said, representing the country’s lowest production in over 50 years, according to historical USDA data.

Farmers in Africa’s fifth-largest coffee producing country, grappling with the effects of drought and low global prices, are increasingly looking to grow other crops, the attache report said. The 2019-20 production levels represent a 13% drop from the levels seen in 2018-19 and the lowest figures for Kenya since 1962-63 according to USDA production data.

The decline in output is expected to send coffee stocks, which in Kenya are held by millers, agents, and exporters, to a record low in 2019-20, the report said.

Last month, international coffee prices fell to a 13-1/2-year low, but have languished near historic lows for several months.

Low prices make it difficult for farmers to take care of their crops and fend off pests and disease. Meanwhile, the poor governance of Kenyan marketing cooperatives and a marketing structure that forces farmers to personally shoulder a large amount of risk is also a major problem for the sector, the report said.

Reporting by Ayenat Mersie; Editing by Tom Brown

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