Market Assessment

Coffee Production Assessment in Raymah Governorate - Yemen, REACH, 2014

    Description
    Domestically, Raymah coffee is reputed to be of relatively poor quality especially when compared to other famed varieties of Yemeni coffee such as the Harazi or Ismaili ones. Nevertheless, Raymah is a key player in coffee production in the country. This context raises questions as to the potential for bridging the gap between quantity and quality in an effort to upgrade the local coffee chain, and the consequences such a change could effect in terms of local livelihoods, vulnerability levels and development.

    Although general information is available at the national level regarding the Yemeni coffee value chain and its efficiency, it is not specific enough to enable decision-making, planning and implementation of activities intended to facilitate the upgrade of the Raymah-specific coffee sector. In particular, very little data was available with regard to three themes directly related to the local coffee sector and its productivity:

    (i) local farming and production practices including pre- and post-harvest behaviours;
    (ii) availability, access to, and management of, water resources, as coffee is a relatively water-intensive crop and the whole of Yemen is faced by a looming water crisis; and
    (iii) gender considerations and division of labour, as Yemen’s deeply conservative socio-cultural environment may constrain women’s contribution to the coffee sector.

    In order to fill this information gap, this detailed assessment on the Raymah coffee chain aims to determine the constraints faced by local coffee producers. The assessment was carried out between January and April 2014 in four districts of Raymah governorate: Al Jabin, As Salafiyah, Kusmah and Al Jafariyah.

    Summary of results
    Post-harvest practices tend to be the weakest link in coffee production at the farm level. Most producers lack awareness, equipment or incentives to invest in such practices, leading them to miss higher return on their production. Those who implement post-harvest practices often reported using improper techniques (such as not rotating drying cherries or storing them for too long), thus contributing to deteriorating quality instead of improving it. Women, who already play a crucial role in maintenance and processing should be further encouraged to take a more active role in coffee transformation, as a way to strengthen their role and visibility in coffee production and in the economic realm in general.

    Water is also a crucial element for agricultural activities, and especially for coffee culture. In a region like Raymah, where both households and farmers reported suffering from severe water shortages, the establishment of an effective and sustainable water management system is crucial in order to reduce pressure on already depleting resources. As such, locally governed bodies may play a significant role in preserving water sources and distributing water equally among community members. The assessment has also shown that only a minority of households and farmers tend to reuse rainwater for their domestic and agricultural purposes. Considering Raymah’s climatic conditions, the implementation of training sessions on water conservation practices may greatly benefit households, and lessen women’s burden in terms of water collection. Finally, water committees should draw upon women’s experience in managing water usage at the household level and actively engage them in managerial roles.

    While farmers are the first and more important actors to target in the chain, other actors such as traders would also benefit from training (notably on coffee processing) in order to ensure that producers’ efforts to grow quality coffee are not lost down the value chain. Furthermore, while improving production practices represent an essential first step, Raymah’s coffee will also greatly benefit from strengthened linkages between producers and markets. As such, traders but also consumers also need to be made aware of Raymah producers' efforts and ambition to put their product on the map of quality Yemeni coffee.