The world needs both more coffee beans and better coffee quality for the different consumer segments. Yara offers a range of solutions to support farmers in supplying the industry with what it needs: Producing higher yields, producing more quality coffee, or achieving both – but always with as little environmental impact as possible.
Coffee production faces a number of challenges. The work is labor intensive. Coffee trees need pruning, fertilization, weeding, crop protection, irrigation - in some countries - and many hands to collect the berries. It’s becoming more difficult to find people willing to do this hard, low-paid work.
At the same time, if nutrients taken from the soil during the harvesting process are not efficiently replaced, problems such as soil depletion and acidification will happen. If soil becomes unsuitable, then there is a high probability that farmers move elsewhere, cut down the forests and start again with the same practices, leading to deforestation.
We believe that soil acidification, land-use change and deforestation can be avoided through improved farmer practices, more balanced use of fertilizers (both organic, if available on the farm, and mineral) and a setup to facilitate access to appropriate fertilizers and of course buyers willing to pay for it.
Through knowledge sharing and training, we introduce sustainable fertilizer management. In Vietnam, the focus is on increasing resource efficiency and helping coffee farmers produce more from less, while in Mexico and Tanzania we show farmers the connection between the use of fertilizer and crop yield.
These are the stories from growers in Vietnam, Mexico and Tanzania:
Tran Quoc Phong makes a living from growing Robusta coffee in the Chu Se district of Gia Lai province, Vietnam.
“Using Yara’s program, I have increased my yield 0.39 tons per hectare to 5.63, compared to traditional practices,” he says.
His trees are stronger, with more branches and leaves, and less cherry drop. And the result is paying off: “Profits have increased 15,892,000 vnd/ha (more than 700 USD per ha) compared to our traditional practices.”
Joel Cárcamo Espinosa makes a living growing and processing coffee at his 5-hectare orchard in Cuautempan-Puebla, Mexico.
“With an organic system (no use of mineral fertilizers), yields weren't more than 4.5 cherry tons/ha. Today, yields are over 14 tons/ha. They have been increasing since 2010 (8.4 cherry tons/ha). Not only has yield increased, but also crop health, less fruit drop and better quality of cups of coffee.”
These results encouraged Joel to renovate the orchard and start processing coffee to sell to local markets. “Normally, 250 kg of coffee cherry fruit converts into 46 kg of green beans (unroasted coffee), but with the Yara nutritional program, you get the same amount of green beans from just 230 kg of fruit!”
Immanuel Mhopaje grows coffee on his 1.6-hectare farm in the Iyula village, located in the district of Mbozi, Tanzania.
Mhopaje noticed considerable improvements in flower, fruit development and ripening after using Yara’s crop nutrition solutions and application knowledge, showing that training from a Yara sales agronomist really paid off!
“The coffee cherries are now properly developed. It means better harvesting with less waste of fruits,” Mhopaje explains. “I have increased my yields by 1.57 tons/ha compared with old farming practices.”
Higher yields and productivity have increased his household income and improved Mhopaje’s livelihood. “I have built a three-bedroom house, and I can afford to send my four children to school.”