Funded by: Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei
November 2019 / April 2020

Sustainable coffee production in Kenya: land and water saving through optimal crop distribution

Agriculture plays a key role in the attainment of development goals to promote growth and reduce poverty in Africa. Crop production in Kenya is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades, so in turn unprecedented amounts of resources such as water, fertilizers and energy will be required. World Bank ( considers water constraints as one the main challenges to Kenya development. To meet the increasing need for agricultural commodities with limited water resources, the water use efficiency of the agricultural sector must be improved. Despite Kenya’s reputation for producing exceptionally high-quality Arabica coffees, the country’s coffee sector is facing a stagnation in production due to the lack of natural resources (water shortage, cropland being lost to housing developments etc.) and political instability. Here we study, at fine scale, the relation between hydrological fluxes and crop (coffee) growth to investigate the extent to which land and water could be sustainable used for increasing coffee production while avoiding competition for land and water resources and preserving crop diversity, economic value, nitrogen fixation.

Main Results and Outputs
  • Assessment of Water Resources in Kenya.
  • Spatially distributed and dynamic modelling of present water resource use in Kenya for agriculture (based on present cropland and climate).
  • Spatially distributed and dynamic modelling of water use for coffee cultivation in Kenya. This analyses will show the impact on downslope areas water resources produced by coffee cultivation.
  • Assessment of most sustainable areas for coffee cultivation in Kenya.  

Related contents:

Other researchers of the project:

  • Davide Danilo Chiarelli,;
  • Livia Ricciardi,;
  • Nikolas Galli,
Chiarelli D.D., Passera C., Rosa L., Davis K.F., D’Odorico P., & Rulli M.C., (2020), Global gridded dataset of crop-specific green and blue water requirements, the WATNEEDS model, Scientific data

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