Promoting Coffee Farming for Economic Diversification
Coffee is a beverage crop, which has grown steadily in popularity, production and consumption and comes in two main types, Robusta and Arabica.
It is the most valuable and widely traded tropical agricultural commodity in terms of production and earning with over twenty five million farmers producing eighty per cent of the world’s coffee.
Coffee provides livelihood for over one hundred million people in coffee-producing countries.
Notwithstanding being indigenous to Africa, the economic importance of coffee accounts for reason many countries outside the continent grow it.
Some of these nations include Vietnam, Colombia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Brazil, which is one of the leading producers of the crop.
Even world powers like the United States of America and China have made coffee business key part of their agricultural production.
In Nigeria, coffee growing dates back to 1964, despite the rising demand for coffee globally, Nigerian farmers seem not to be tapping into the potential as the produce has seen a significant decrease in both production and export.
According to statistics from the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, RMRDC, between 2010 and 2015, about one point five billion Naira worth of coffee products were imported into the country.
Records put coffee production at 30,000 bags in 2011, 40,000 in 2012, 30,000 bags in 2013 and 35,000 in 2014.
According to reports by the United States Department of Agriculture, a great slump emerged in 2015, as the country recorded zero percent coffee production for the first four months of the year.
Now, giving the economic potential of coffee and in the light of the current economic diversification effort in the country, it has become imperative that government take steps to revive coffee production.
The country is endowed with land and favourable climatic condition to grow the crop.
For example, coffee specie can be cultivated in eleven states across different agro-ecological regimes.
In states, such as Plateau and Taraba, coffee could easily be cultivated.
To promote coffee cultivation, government should address the problem of poor seedling in nursery practice which affects mass distribution of coffee seedlings to farmers.
This will be enhanced through improved coffee seed varieties, processing and storage techniques.
Also government should encourage and train farmers on best practices for coffee production to increase and improve the yield.
The volume of world coffee trade remains enormous reportedly hitting about 9.13 million bags in 2016, with over 2.5 billion cups of coffee being consumed daily in the world.
The nation cannot afford to miss out of this lucrative trade worth about 20 billion dollars per annum as government pushes ahead with its economic diversification drive.