Bolivian coffee production 101

An interesting article written by Alejandra Sanjines in Los Tiempos:

The Bolivian coffee production

The production and export of coffee in our country is a topic that deserves attention because it is one of the main generic products that are traded on the world market, whose production is usually done in tropical zones. Currently more than 80 countries grow it in their different types, of which just over 50 countries exported it. [photo used here is from]

By the value that represents, coffee is one of the main agricultural products, with an important weight in world trade, reaching generate annual revenues exceeding 15 billion dollars for exporting countries and giving direct and indirect occupation to little more than 20 million people in cultivation, transformation, processing and marketing of the product in the world. To determine the prices of coffee at the international level there are two stock exchange markets: New York and London; and along with these, the International Coffee Organization is the body which brings together all Governments in major producing and consuming countries.

In Bolivia, this category has importance since 23,000 families working directly with the production of coffee and 12,000 families in an indirect way. In the Yungas [La Paz], 70 per cent of the producers is organized; However, it has shortcomings both in production and in marketing.

Bolivia currently exports coffee to Germany, United States and Japan, among others. In 2011 more than 4,600 tons were exported, as of May this year the export reached to something more than 1,430 tons. However, the utilities obtained are not satisfactory for producers and exporters, that the quality of the coffee produced, due to deficiencies in the technology, it is no longer the most acceptable in those countries; in addition, the requirements are more demanding according to norms and international markets that determine costs and prices by the type and quality of coffee.

Indeed, while in destination marketing channels, have improved so the Bolivian coffee exporter now exerts greater control over certain links of the commercial chain, production remains precarious, little industrialized since the machinery used for pre-benefiting and benefit processes is outdated and in some cases non-existent.

Faced with this situation, are being implemented technological innovations in cultivation that are targeted to achieve the quality standards required for export; However, they face high costs of investment. This situation is triggering a process of business concentration, especially in the marketing stage.

From our perspective, exports of coffee in Bolivia still could improve both the quality of the coffee produced as the benefits for coffee growers and coffee organizations since, under current conditions, community and from the community coffee production is currently saturated markets, and prices displayed show a downward trend. With more appropriate public policies, Bolivia could form part of more trade agreements that have an impact on the type of coffee produced and marketing improved; but also in the living conditions of the coffee producers.

The author is a member of the administrative team of Cipca

So, lets assume there are going to be sound, competitive public policies to boost this sector. What is more attainable and doable over the short-run is to improve Bolivian coffee’s quality: current growers must learn how to better harvest it, protect from moisture which will bring more quality, hence price will improve!

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