Brewing Success: Market Incentives to Improve The Quality of Kenyan Coffee

This study examines the impact of market access on investment in quality by bean farmers in Uganda.

Beans are an important source of nutrition among East Africans. The consumption of beans in East Africa has however been declining. The downtrend has been attributed to hard-to-cook characteristics present in many traded beans requiring a long time (up to 12 hours) and a lot of energy to cook, together with the fact that many traded beans are pest-infested. Poor bean quality results from poor crop husbandry and poor post-harvest handling. Hard-to-cook characteristics primarily result from high temperature and high humidity during storage. Some bean varieties in addition are inherently hard-to-cook. Poor post-harvest handling further increases the likelihood of pest infestation.

Small-scale farmers, who have limited access to markets that place a premium on quality beans, have limited incentives to produce better quality. Further due to the lack of quality requirements by many of the traders that farmers deal with, there is no real incentive to improve on post-harvest quality (Archambault, 2004).

The author will use a randomized control trial (RCT) to determine whether access to improved markets encourages farmers to invest in quality thus increasing farmer profits and reducing farmers’ vulnerability. This study would be the first, to my knowledge, that experimentally examines the effect of access to improved markets on quality and subsequently revenues.