Helping coffee farmers obtain better yields

The coffee market is a global business with many stakeholders and characterized by volatility and uncertainty. Today, one of the main challenges the coffee sector faces is the low productivity of smallholder farmers. Coffee price fluctuations make profits hard to come by, particularly for smallholders, offering these farmers little motivation to invest in their coffee farms, closing the door for future generations of coffee farmers.

At the same time, the world is drinking more coffee, and demand is expected to continue to exceed supply. World consumption for 2015/2016 is estimated at 164 million bags (9,840 million tons), while forecasts predict it will increase to 200 million bags (12 million tons) by 2030. This happens as the impact of climate change grows exponentially, posing an ever-increasing challenge to coffee production.

The International Coffee Organization (ICO) states that to supply the coffee world demand, increased productivity should not result in deforestation, soil depletion, pollution and an increased water usage and carbon footprint.

While the coffee industry works to move farmers from subsistence to business, the focus shall remain on profit and sustainability, hand in hand with a protected environment.

We think it is possible. We are committed to sharing our knowledge.  See how we do that in this video: 

 Coffee production faces a number of challenges. The work is labor intensive. Coffee trees need pruning, fertilization, weeding, crop protection, irrigation - in some countries - and many hands to collect the berries. It’s becoming more difficult to find people willing to do this hard, low-paid work.

At the same time, if nutrients taken from the soil during the harvesting process are not efficiently replaced, problems such as soil depletion and acidification will happen. If soil becomes unsuitable, then there is a high probability that farmers move elsewhere, cut down the forests and start again with the same practices, leading to deforestation.

Through knowledge sharing and training, we introduce sustainable fertilizer management. In Vietnam, the focus is on increasing resource efficiency and helping coffee farmers produce more from less, while in Mexico and Tanzania we show farmers the connection between the use of fertilizer and crop yield.


Tran Quoc Phong, Coffee farmerTran Quoc Phong makes a living from growing Robusta coffee in the Chu Se district of Gia Lai province, Vietnam.

“Using Yara’s program, I have increased my yield 0.39 tons per hectare to 5.63, compared to traditional practices,” he says.

His bushes are stronger, with more branches and leaves, and less cherry drop. And the result is paying off: “Profits have increased 15,892,000 vnd/ha (more than 700 USD per ha) compared to our traditional practices.” 


Immanuel Mhopaje coffee farmer Immanuel Mhopaje grows coffee on his 1.6-hectare farm in the Iyula village, located in the district of Mbozi, Tanzania.

Mhopaje noticed considerable improvements in flower, fruit development and ripening after using Yara’s crop nutrition solutions and application knowledge, showing that training from a Yara sales agronomist really paid off!

“The coffee cherries are now properly developed. It means better harvesting with less waste of fruits,” Mhopaje explains. “I have increased my yields by 1.57 tons/ha compared with old farming practices.”

Higher yields and productivity have increased his household income and improved Mhopaje’s livelihood. “I have built a three-bedroom house, and I can afford to send my four children to school.” 

The food chain

The whole food chain, from Yara to the consumer, contributes to developing a sustainable coffee sector – economically, environmentally and socially. Through its direct interaction with farmers in coffee-producing countries, we at Yara can play an essential role in solving the sustainability equation by empowering farmers through knowledge and better solutions to grow the best quality bean.

Close to the farmer, balanced application of nutrients, reduce environmental footprint of the farming stage of the coffee life cycle, increase resilience against impacts of a changing climate. 

A balanced coffee nutrition program along with the proper form of nitrogen fertilizers – at the right time and right dosage – can help:

  • Coffee farmers improve productivity and increase yields and profits
  • Enhance the quality of coffee beans, meeting the taste demands of discerning consumers
  • Reduce soil acidity and soil depletion
  • Reduce the carbon footprint of a cup of coffee
  • Improve the efficiency of water use
  • Improve resilience to a changing climate

As the leading provider of crop nutrition solutions to farmers throughout the world, we are investing in research on coffee to support farmers facing new challenges in the future.

Farmers need help understanding which types of fertilizer to apply, and when. Yara’s global knowledge helps us adapt tools to local conditions, making sure farmers everywhere have the best opportunity to succeed.