Both papers with full page Coffee articles today

Coffee, the main export product of Nicaragua, faces tough times. A rust attack has endangered at least 10% of the 2012-2013 cycle, and the international price per quintal is below U.S. $ 145.

The most disturbing news is that in Central America, Nicaragua has one of the lowest yields of grain production per acre planted.

View Infographics:

I was surprised at the low per manzana figure, 11 quintals on average per manzana so: 1,100 pounds at $1.45 a pound = $1,595 per manzana. After costs, you would need a lot of manzanas to make a living

Some producers of the Segovias estimate that the losses amount to ten percent of the crop in that area. Marcio Irías Rodríguez, representative of the coffee producers of Estelí, said that "this problem will have greater impact on crops in the coming years."

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Another story in today's LP

great read..the type..

of coffee we are mostly catamora..which is rust resistence..yupi..

Coffee Rust Is

the reason Brits drink tea. They used to drink coffee. It's been around a long time.

Colombia supposedly has developed a rust resistant bean, Castillo. Jury is still out on taste :) There are forty different strains of the fungus, so nothing stays resistant forever.

I suspect (but don't know, as Juanno has pointed out, and I readily concede) that planting trees very close together 1) facilitates the spread of the rust spores, and 2) makes it difficult to get the fungicide properly applied.

If it gets out of hand it has the potential to be very destructive. If you're downwind of a neighbor who has disease ridden plants, and is without the funds to address the problem, you will also be affected, no matter how great your practices are.

Lots Of Possibilities

for improvements in coffee management.

Plants too close together, erratic feeding, water left to the Grace of God, and poor or non-existent drainage. Any healthy plant is naturally resistant to disease. Of course, we all need a shot of something now and then to fend off the really nasty stuff.

And that's the managed part of the coffee plantings. Not all, or course, Lead, cork and inconsistency are synomyms for Nicaragua.

The rest of the crop is just some opportunistic bushes that provide small amounts of cash to Campo dwellers.

Commodity price is not going to get better, with Vietnam, Ecuador, and every other TDH growing coffee.

Branding and marketing offer a viable alternative to the $1.45 /lb commodity price. Branding requires a consistency in quality that the consumer can depend on. This (branding and marketing) is already happening too.

This is bigger than just a few people who want to grow good coffee. That's already happening. The Nicaraguan government will have to get involved, establish grading standards and enforce them, publicize the merits of Nicaraguan coffee to the world. It will be up to the growers to establish channels for this superior coffee, channels that net them well above the world price.

A business case to studyis the Hawaian Kona farm direct marketers. They sell their beans for $30/ lb and sell out every year.

You really think...

You have enough experience and qualifications to make these criticisms about an established industry?

Well, I Said

something to this effect a long time ago:

" .. . . The most disturbing news is that in Central America, Nicaragua has one of the lowest yields of grain production per acre planted. "

I don't think Nicaraguans are inherently any less talented than others, and I have seen some very nice coffee plantings in Nicaragua. So, it probably comes down to a question of information, resources, and diligence in the application of the former two. Really enjoying what you do helps too. That's the growing part.

Then, you can either sell your coffee for $1.45 /lb on the commodity market, or sell it as Rob does for $11 /lb (with some value added in the way of packaging and roasting). Based on my research a premium market does exist for Nicaraguan coffee but it's not in Nicaragua. Rob enjoys a captive market, and a reputation built over many years.

Farming is a business like any other. 1 + 1 + 1 has to eventually equal 5 or it's not sustainable. When you talk about experience and qualifications, do you refer to growing coffee, or are you referring to the business part of the adventure ?

What have I missed? The rest is managing the details, employees, theft, government overhead, water, drainage, the list is endless. Is Nicaragua a different venue? Sure. But, Nicaragua is moving in a much better direction for a small business person than the US currently is.

It's a great place for dreams... go pop. See recent posts about the higher end hotels in San Juan del Sur.

The problem with growing anything is that there are factors you can't control for. Dialing in the sun just right is tricky. Wild arabica coffee is in danger now because of climate change, so the gene base can't be expanded by going back to wild plants and looking for new genetic material.

People here aren't stupid. If you can think of it, they've probably tried it. Of course, the market isn't here. I suspect that Nicaraguans also are very aware of that since they've been shipping coffee for over a hundred years.

Rebecca Brown

Too much new production

I live near Nandasmo, 2k north of the highway. In the past year nearly everyone living along this road has planted coffee. I can't imagine that anyone is going to make any money.

Not If They

sell their beans for $1.45 /lb. I remember it was $1.85 last year this time ??

But, check this out:

That's green beans. End User roasted goes for considerably more.

That's what a retailer is charging for them...

...not what the guys growing them got. And I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't a broker in the middle there, too.

I pay 28 or 29 Cordobas for better looking green whole beans in the local market and am arranging to buy from the neighbor and another source, so I'm getting someone's coffee for under $1.50 a pound. Nastier looking green coffee beans are 22 cordobas a pound.

People are at the mercy of their pickers. I've been advised to buy early season, when the pickers are only taking the really ripe berries, or late, where the only thing left are the really ripe berries. Middle season, people pick as much as possible as fast as possible.

Rebecca Brown

" .a broker in the middle . ."

Now you're getting it :)

A bit of vertical integration.

The broker part is

17% to 22% of the export price. According to a big grower in Matagalpa.

He also said it takes about 3 years and $3,600 per manzana to get a coffee area up to production (from scratch).

He added that when the coffee was really high, many farmers were not re planting zones and were just "milking it" on what they had producing, those bushes will tire and they will not have the new ones coming up at a 1, 2, or 3 year stage. This years rust will cost 10% of the crop, next year a lot more.

KWP, you know I wasn't talking about your business acumen because I don't know about that. I do know that you haven't been a coffee producer before.

3 + years and $3,600

And of course the final figure really depends on what infrastructure is already in place, like wells, engineering to mark the contours of the hills.

You're right, the closest I have gotten to coffee production is a friend who grows a single bush on her patio in So Cal. I've never thought the difficulty was in growing coffee; it grows easily and everyone seems to be doing it lately, -- after a fashion.

Growing a superior bean, growing a consistent crop year to year, hiring the right people to help you . . . . and finding a channel to market your coffee that is more profitable and less dependent on world prices; isn't that what it's really all about ?

Ask Rob & Kelly

and partner Will to be really honest with you about this part you mentioned "Growing a superior bean, growing a consistent crop year to year, hiring the right people to help you"...

You will have the advantage of being onsite.

They have the last part covered; "finding a channel to market your coffee that is more profitable and less dependent on world prices"..they have just about worn that roaster out taking in 40 cords a cup...

However, they, like you, are looking for the answer to "Growing a superior bean, growing a consistent crop year to year, hiring the right people to help you"... much work..

im place is close to break even now..planting 14,000 coffee not real smart..should do about 5000 a yr..clearing planting and all that costs enough cacao..also doing another manzana of that..that hopefully in a couple of yrs..the my play money..the cacao..will pay the bills

Coffee roaster anyone?

Well, when all you "coffee experts" need a roaster, let me know. I have a never used Ambex -- just like the one El Gato Negro has -- that I expect I never will use.

dose it work

better than a frying pan

I was going by commodity prices

and comments from people who know what they are talking about.

Such as the National Coffee Association (Anacafe) who say that it is under the cost of production.

So for a farmer with financing, the cost of production per quintal is U.S. $185, for those who have resources, costs are U.S. $160 per quintal.

were getting bout 20-22/lb

for the season nears a end..the prices seem to drop a litlle..we sell it in waslala..the midle man has transport get it to metagalpa..there he sells it..a lot of diferent hands in the pie

I don't doubt you.

I have less than zero patience this week with people who think they can teach people about agriculture who haven't themselves brought in even one successful cash crop, but they've read books.

If you have all sorts of money to play with, you can do all sorts of things as long as you can afford your losses.

Rebecca Brown

thanks guys..

im putting in 14,000 trees 5000 in..9 to go..had all cacao..and want 2 crops