Although accounting for only a small proportion of overall production in the country, the amount of Robusta grown in Nicaragua is expected to increase as new areas are opened up in what is otherwise best known as an Arabica producer.
The growing importance of Robusta in the country is highlighted in the most recent report on coffee in Nicaragua produced by the US Department of Agriculture’s Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN).
It notes that, in August 2013, the government of Nicaragua issued a Ministerial decree (012-2013) that approved the cultivation of Robusta along the Caribbean Coast, where there is no Arabica production.
Then, in December 2016, through a new Ministerial Decree (187-2016), the government extended the approved areas to six new departments in the Pacific Coast.
The main criteria for production of Robusta is that plantations need to be established at least 30km away from Arabica plantations and it must not be cultivated in areas that are more than 400m above sea level.
The private sector expects production of Robusta to increase by 30 per cent in 2017/2018 and to reach 7,000 hectares and 500,000 60kg bags in the next decade.
Most of Nicaragua’s coffee production is Arabica (shade grown) and is concentrated in the North Central Region of the country in the municipalities of Jinotega, Matagalpa and Nueva Segovia. As highlighted above there is also now Robusta production in what is known as the Southern Autonomous Caribbean Coast, although to a lesser scale. Current Robusta production is said to be close to 30,000 bags (less than 2 per cent of total production) and is used primarily for the domestic market.
The GAIN report said the 2016/2017 coffee harvest in Nicaragua achieved a record crop of an estimated production of 2.3 million bags, a seven per cent increase compared to the previous year.
The increase was attributed to a favourable rainy season that led to early flowering of coffee trees and trees on new plantations that are starting to bear fruit.
For 2017/2018, the coffee sector forecasts very similar production numbers, assuming good weather conditions.