Nicaraguan Coffee Production Predicted to Fall 15 Percent

The Nicaraguan coffee sector is in the middle of the worst crisis of the last decade. “With coffee prices plummeting to $89 per 45 kilogram (kg) bag in May 2019 and farmers not having access to credit, coffee exporters predict that coffee production could fall at least 15 percent in MY 2019/2020”, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service released the report on Friday, May 31, 2019.

Others estimate that coffee production could plummet more than 20 percent. In addition to the challenges of low international coffee prices, Nicaragua has been immersed in a social-political crisis since April 2018.

This has resulted in large-scale capital flight, forcing banks to curtail credit across all economic sectors. Coffee farmers do not foresee a short term solution to the crisis and expect that production numbers will continue on a downward trend beyond the 2019/2020 coffee harvest.

The 2018/2019 coffee harvest was good. Total coffee production in 2018/2019 reached over 3.1 million 45 kg bags or 2.3 million 60 kg bags, a slight decrease compared to the previous year.

Excellent climate conditions with rain well distributed throughout the year, and a homogenous ripening of the coffee beans contributed to a good harvest. Other positive factors included some farmers still having access to finance and recent renovations of 20,000 hectares of coffee plantations.

Coffee farmers anticipate at least a 15 percent drop in coffee production in MY 2019/2020. This is due to the poor management of the coffee plantations since 2018, a lack of access to finance, low international coffee prices, and the ongoing Nicaragua’s social-political crisis.

The 2018/2019 coffee harvest was a good one. Total coffee production in 2018/2019 reached over 3.1 million 45 kg bags or 2.3 million 60 Kg bags, a slight decrease compared to the previous year.

Excellent climate conditions with rain well distributed throughout the year, and a homogenous ripening of the coffee beans contributed to a good harvest. Other positive factors included some farmers still having access to finance and recent renovations of 20,000 hectares of coffee plantations.

Coffee is mainly produced in the North Central Region of Nicaragua with a range of altitudes from 365 to 1500 meters above sea level.

According to the most recent agricultural census, there are approximately 140,000 hectares planted with coffee, out of which 90 percent are being harvested. Common varieties include Caturra (72 percent) and Borbons, Paca, Catuai, Catimore, Maragogype and Pacamara (28 percent).

More than 97 percent of coffee producers are small with average farm size of less than 14 hectares. In the last five years, farmers have renovated more than 20,000 hectares of coffee. In 2013, Nicaragua allowed the cultivation of Robusta coffee in non-traditional coffee regions, including the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua.

There are about 2,100 hectares planted with Robusta coffee in the South Autonomous Caribbean Coast (RACS). Robusta production is approximately 30,000 60 kg bags (less than 2 percent of total production) and only used for the domestic market.

Coffee has been one of the country’s principal products in Nicaragua. Most of the Nicaraguan coffee is grown in the Jinotega, Matagalpa, and Nueva Segovia regions in the northern province.

It is known that Matagalpa Department produces the best bean quality. Most of the coffee produced in Nicaragua is the Arabica bean. It is grown at altitudes above 2500 feet.

Nicaragua coffee accounts for 1.4% of the world’s coffee production.

© The Expo Review

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