Coffee along with sugar, cocoa, palm oil, palm kernel oil, rubber and tea are the principal cash crops of Zaire. These are all produced on large plantations and smaller operations grow tobacco and cotton.
As the single most important crop of Zaire's agricultural cash crops, coffee is grown on small farms as well as big plantations. Small farmers are generally only played small prices compared to the profits gained by the large plantation owners and exporters through the official Zairian Coffee Board.
Producers in the region are said to circumvent state controls including quotas and low prices an illicit trade in Zaire coffee is arisen and some estimates have up to sixty percent of the country's crop smuggled out illicitly.
Zaire Coffee Plant Varietals
About 90% of Zaire's coffee crop is the lower-grade Robusta coffee which is used primarily to make instant coffee. The other ten percent is the higher grade Arabica coffee plant varietal which requires cooler temperatures and higher elevations to thrive.
Zaire Coffee Production
Zaire's coffee crop was about 120,000 tons in 1990 but suffered some difficulties in the 1990s due to lack of fertilizer, low prices and lack of investment as well as a fungal disease called tracheomycose attacking coffee plants.
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Zaire joined the Association of Coffee Producing Countries (APCP) in 1993 which worked to increase coffee prices by withholding a portion of exports. The current upward trend in coffee prices is likely to energize Zaire's coffee industry.
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