NAIROBI (Reuters) – The value of coffee sold at Kenya’s auctions fell 18 percent to $142.5 million in the crop year to September, hit by lower volumes, the head of the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) said on Monday.
The east African nation, whose high-quality beans are sought by roasters to blend with beans from other producers, exports much of its coffee through the exchange and the rest is sold by growers directly to foreign buyers.
The NCE sold coffee worth $174.1 million in the 2013/14 season that runs between October and September.
“Drought conditions early in the year affected crop especially in the central Kenya growing areas and that has reflected in the overall performance,” Daniel Mbithi, the chief executive of the NCE told Reuters.
Officials said 568,766 60-kg bags were sold during the period, down from 671,438 the previous year. The average price at the exchange also dropped to $205.02 per 50-kg bag from $212.70 the previous year.
East African coffee is normally packed in 60-kg bags, but the prices are quoted for quantities of 50 kg.
Coffee exports were at one time Kenya’s leading foreign exchange earner but have slipped to under 50,000 tonnes in recent years from a record level of 130,000 tonnes in 1987/88.
Many smallholder coffee farmers, disillusioned with poor earnings, switched to other crops or sold land for real estate in recent years.
The area of coffee plantations in Kenya has fallen to 109,000 hectares from the average of 150,000 hectares in 1980s and 1990s, the regulator, the Coffee Directorate, has said.
(Editing by Duncan Miriri and Mark Potter, Reuters)