Last Updated on October 24, 2020 by Nick Baskett
Update – 24th October, 2020
We have heard from a coffee exporter that not all Kenyan coffee has been banned from Japan and South Korea. Although this was widely reported at the time in a number of African news agencies, it appears that reporters at an event have misinterpreted a statement by the Chairman of KCPA, a non profit group that lobbies for coffee producer rights in Kenya.
It seems that a number of shipments have been turned away at the border, and the Chairman Peter Gikonyo had raised a concern that this would lead to an outright ban. One reader contacted Bartalks to say that they are still exporting coffee to those countries. Concern around the chemical was confirmed, although the importer said it was Dichlorophenoxyacetic which was a primary concern.
Looking into the history of this chemical, we discovered that it has been around since the 1940’s, and as such is no longer the subject of patent protection, meaning that companies can produce it cheaply. This makes it attractive for farmers in Africa looking for cost-effective ways to control weeds.
However, the chemical is known to have an affect on the fertility of those employing it. Safety equipment should be used, but as we’ve seen among cocoa farmers, this equipment is often not supplied to those tasked with spraying.
Further, after mixed reports, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated the chemical may have carcinogenic effects in humans in 2015.
Bartalks has contacted KCPA. We are waiting for a response and will update the story below when the situation is confirmed.
Original Story Below
Kenyan coffee may lose top spot in the global market following its rejection in Japan and South Korea due to high levels of chemical contamination.
The chemical found is Ochratoxin. It exceeded the allowable limits, resulting in rejection at the two countries’ border points. The coffee has been banned for three years with local stakeholders raising concerns that if this is not reversed, then the produce could face a total ban.
Kenya Coffee Producers Association wants the government to address the issue fast, as it could have a negative effect on other importing countries as well.
In 2017/2018, statistics show that South Korea was fourth in the world accounting for 12% of Kenya’s coffee exports, behind Germany, United States and Belgium.
The association is concerned that some of the reasons for the flagging could be gaps in certification procedures for coffee agrochemicals, inadequate capacity by farmers in post-harvest handling of the crop and gaps in coffee export regulations and enforcement.
Covid-19 effects also worry the producers and hope for the government to control the spread of the virus. With pre-Covid coffee prices already down, they believe measures have increased cost of production, compromised quality, reduced demand of coffee and increased cost of logistics.
Kenyan coffee production has been declining from a high of 130,000 tonnes in the late 80s to the current 40,000 tonnes. It is claimed that the majority of the smallholder coffee farmers are currently harvesting much lower yields per tree than in previous years.