Nyeri - Kenya aims to double its annual coffee production by 2020 to 92 000 tonnes by increasing the area under cultivation and raising yields, helping bolster revenue from a major foreign exchange earner.
Kenya, which relies heavily on coffee export earnings, is a small producer that accounts for just 1% of the global crop but is renowned for its high quality arabica beans that are sought after for blending with other varieties.
Since production peaked at 129 000 tonnes in 1988/89 it has dropped steadily due to poor management and global price swings that prompted farmers to switch crops or even sell land. Output was just 41 000 tonnes in the year to September.
To boost production, farmers will receive training and be encouraged to plant higher-yielding plants, said Alfred Busolo, acting head of the agriculture, fisheries and food authority, which regulates the industry.
Authorities also aim to open new farming areas in the Rift Valley and western Kenya, by training farmers, offering seedlings and funding at low interest rates of 2.5-5% per year, he said.
Commercial rates normally available to farmers are usually in double digits.
Production is now focused in Kenya's central highlands.
"The objective is to increase from the current estimated 110 000 hectares to 130 000 hectares by 2020," he said. "Prospects for the Kenyan coffee industry are now looking up."
Analysts say such plans have been put forward in the past only to stumble due to a range of issues, including poor marketing and a failure to help farmers cope with global price swings.