Coffee farming in Africa is serious, and the crop stands as a cash crop. Africa grows some of the best species of coffee while at the same time the worst qualities of the berries still come from African soils. The African coffee belt stretches from Zimbabwe to Ethiopia or the eastern coast of the continent. The primary producers include Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. Ethiopia specifically produces Arabica coffee species. On the other hand, Uganda, its closest neighbor, specializes in producing Robusta coffee beans. In fact, while the world considers Ethiopia as the original spring for Arabica coffee, many consider Uganda as the true source of the robusta species (Robertson, 2010). Over time, farmers in various places have learnt the best climate that supports coffee farming.
In Brazil, farmers occupy more than 2.5 million ha with coffee from the latitudes 10 to 24 degrees south. These farmers mostly do their coffee farming on sloping land and use high technology in their practices. Brazil produces large amounts of Arabica and substantial quantities of Robusta. Over the years, the quantity of Robusta in the country has increased by 21 percent. As of 2000, Brazil consumed around fifty percent of its coffee production. Although Brazil is a major exporter of coffee, production in the country is not free from challenges farmers have to deal with frost and drought issues, which have increased in the recent past (Illy & Viani, 2005). Comparing farming in Brazil and Africa illuminates the sensitivity of coffee in terms of appropriate humidity and temperature conditions.
Coffee farming prospers under specific climate conditions, therefore, generating huge revenues for the few countries that meet these conditions. Arabica coffee beans grow best in two climates: subtropical regions with temperatures ranging from 16 to 24 degrees and equatorial areas with latitudes below 10 degrees and altitudes that range from 3600 to 6300 feet. The subtropical must have well defined dry and rainy seasons and altitudes that range between 1800 and 3600 feet. Countries that meet these requirements include Jamaica, Mexico, Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo areas in Brazil, as well as Zimbabwe. On the other hand, the equatorial regions spur almost incessant flowering making it possible to have two harvest seasons. The biggest harvesting period depends on how long the long the period of the long rains last. In countries with continuous periods of long rains, farmers use mechanical dryers to dry coffee berries. Countries that have these conditions include Ethiopia, Kenya, and Columbia (Thurston, Morris, & Steiman, 2013).
Coffee grows well in different types of soil textures and types. The best soil conditions are those that are deep and permeable, with god drainage. The preferable PH level is 5.8-6.2. Coffee does not produce good yields in soils that are heavy in nature and have poor drainage. In soils with PH levels that fall outside the ideal range, some macronutrients as well as micronutrients become deficient, especially iron. In addition to that, soils that have a very low PH can lead to aluminum toxicity (Virginia et al., 2013). Countries that meet these conditions have been able to inject substantial economic gains in their markets.
Description and Uses
After farming and harvesting, seeds from coffee plants, also known as coffee beans, undergo processing, roasting, and brewing before it becomes ready to make beverages. Brewed and roasted beans also find use as desserts, candies, and savory dishes. Myriad uses for coffee seeds, fruit, and its coffee by-products exist. The fruit pulp makes great tea, which contains antioxidants and caffeine. In addition to that, fruit pulp also contains potassium and nitrogen elements that can find use in the production of fertilizers. The byproducts also act as viable organic matter that assists in making the soil extremely productive. Farmers also use parchment skins in their coffee orchards as well as other areas to make to increase the fertility of the soil (Virginia et al., 2013).
Coffee and the Economy
Coffee stands as the most traded agricultural product from the tropical areas and boosts the economy of numerous countries. More than 7 tonnes of these berries were grown in 2011, of which around 6 tonnes found their way out of different countries as exports. That year alone, countries that produce coffee earned more than $23 billion from exporting coffee. The trade continues all year round, and it is a source of livelihood for 125 million people. On the other hand, more than 1 billion people around the globe consume coffee products every single day. Global demand for coffee has nearly doubled in the last four decades and forecasts state that it will reach nearly 10 million tonnes come the year 2019 (Leatherhead, 2012). Scores of farmers are venturing in this farming raising the global production every year.
Global production of coffee has continually increased over the years, and so has the economy of countries that depend on the product for revenue. Production globally stood at around six million tonnes in the 90s. This value rose to 7.6 million tonnes due to high supplies from Vietnam and Brazil. In 2010, this value reached a record 8 million tonnes. More than seventy countries contribute to this amount of coffee exports every year. However, more than sixty percent of this amount comes from just four countries – Indonesia, Vietnam, Colombia, and Brazil. Brazil has been the biggest exporter of coffee in the world and its production averages 2.5 million tonnes every year. Vietnam follows closely at 1.1 million tonnes while Ethiopia produces around 400,000 tonnes per year. Other countries such as India produces 280,000 tonnes, Mexico produces 270,000 tonnes, Guatemala produces 230,000 tonnes, Honduras produces 230,000 tonnes, Peru produces 219,000, Kenya produces 290,000 tonnes and Uganda produces 230,000 tonnes of coffee (Leatherhead, 2012). This production is of value to governments, citizens, and the individual farmers involved in the cultivation processes.
Coffee generates many returns, supports millions of people, and provides national income for major exporting countries. Major exporters rely on national income emanating from coffee exports for various development projects within their countries. Burundi depends on more than sixty percent of its proceedings from coffee exports. Honduras, on the other hand, depends on more than a quarter of its coffee earnings while Nicaragua uses a fifth of its proceedings to run national operations. In Ethiopia, almost a fifth of the national population depends on coffee proceedings for their livelihood. The rising prices of the commodity contributed to more than 30% of the country’s revenue in 2010/11. In the neighboring country, Uganda, coffee is the major source of livelihood for more 8% of the country’s population (Leatherhead, 2012). Coffee trade involves grading where the best qualities are sold separately and for a different price. The different moving species of coffee and the industrial processes coffee goes through give rise to the different qualities of the commodity (Illy & Viani, 2005).
Positive and Negative Effects
Coffee contains one of the most widely used and prevalent stimulants, caffeine. When people use coffee in moderation, it relieves their fatigue and escalates their alertness. Millions of users take coffee because of its ability to relieve them from stress and hard day’s work. The ability of coffee to cause a relaxation effect among users has made the drink popular. In particular, users prefer to prepare black sugarless coffee to ensure they relax (Higdon & Frei, 2006). This relaxation feature is attributed to the caffeine in the coffee. Coffee contains intricate mixture of certain chemicals that present myriad health benefits and a tantalizing aroma. The contents include substantial amounts of chlorogenic acid. Studies show that chlorogenic acid, phenolic components, and phytochemicals in coffee help in preventing certain chronic diseases such as liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, and diabetes mellitus type 2. In addition to that, phenolic components also contribute to lowering the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Users also love coffee for its flavor and aroma. In fact, thousands consume coffee because of its tantalizing aroma (Higdon & Frei, 2006). Regardless of this benefits, coffee drinkers ought to consider the possible harms and effects that could come due to extended and excessive use of coffee.
Although coffee is famous, and users flaunt of its multiplicity of benefits, it presents numerous noteworthy health risks. This drink stands as CNS stimulator that leads to increased production of adrenals, a hormone that handles stress. The short-term benefits are that it leads to increased alertness and awareness. However, long-term usage could lead to a crash making users’ demand for the drink to rise. The addiction properties related to coffee may ultimately lead to adrenal exhaustion, and the results may be grave. Besides that, coffee contains an acknowledged carcinogen caffeine, which could spur the development of cancer. This factor supersedes touted anti-cancer properties. The carcinogenic properties become active when coffee undergoes roasting processes. Further, the caffeine contained in coffee may interfere with a brain chemical, adenosine, which produces a calming effect to the body (Higdon & Frei, 2006).
Coffee, in its entirety, is good, but users ought to refrain from using it under various circumstances. Pregnant mothers or those who are nursing babies should not drink coffee as it may affect an unborn or small baby. Individuals with high blood pressure levels, gallstones, heart disease, or blood clotting disorders should refrain from making coffee. Coffee is also contraindicated for individuals with mental disorders such as anxiety and insomnia. The drink may make people feel quivery, hyperactive, or agitated and anyone who experiences an excess of this should avoid it. Finally, one should not drink coffee if he or she has an allergic reaction with it or develops a sensitivity interaction issue because of drinking coffee (Higdon & Frei, 2006).
In summary, coffee’s popularity appears to be on an exponential rise, and it will continue to be the most popular drink in the future. The berries, which trace their roots to Ethiopia in Africa, have become a source of revenue to many governments and a source of livelihood to many individuals. Countries such as India, Brazil, Indonesia, and Vietnam depend on coffee exports as their major source of revenue. On the other hand, developing nations in Africa such as Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya depend on revenue from coffee exports to finance various development projects. Overall, millions depend on coffee for a source of income while more than one billion people consume the drink on a daily basis. Coffee presents several benefits to users including a good aroma, increased alertness, and prevention of some chronic diseases. However, care should be taken by users not to develop dependency. Excessive consumption of coffee may also lead to various health problems such as hormonal imbalance and cancer.