Restoring degraded coffee farms


This project is located around Mount Kenya in Central Kenya. The project entails the planting of shade trees (around 70 trees per hectare) in severely degraded coffee systems, including a capacity building program. Besides shade tree planting, fuel-efficient stoves with 35% efficiency will be introduced on the farms. In total around 25,624 farmers will be involved, with a total of 3,075 hectares, divided over 8 farmer cooperatives. At present, average coffee productivity is around 350 kg/ha which is extremely low. This has mainly been caused by severe soil degradation (due to high fertilizer inputs and acidification of the soils) and improper management of the coffee plants.

Total costs for the project are USD 550,000. Financial calculations has shown a feasible business case for an investment proposition against an 4-8% interest rate.


It is expected that the planned measures will improve coffee productivity by 50-80%. The shade tree planting will sequester around 159,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions and make the coffee systems more resilient to climate change due to their soil improving characteristics and improvement of the on-farm micro-climate.

For the farmers, benefits are improved income from coffee productivity, and future timber revenues from shade trees. Conservative calculations estimate that farmer income will improve by USD 33.-/year due to the measurements, which is still an interesting proposition to Kenyan coffee farmers. The introduction of a mild shade regime and the reduction of pesticide use will also have a positive impact on biodiversity on farm, in both soil and canopy layers. Hence, there is a big win-win opportunity here.


Angel Mario Martinez Garcia: