COFFEE farmers in parts of the Highlands are starting to venture into subsistence farming.
They said tending to coffee gardens was hard work and unprofitable.
Western Highlands coffee grower Jack Korua said he uprooted his coffee trees to plant sweet potato (kaukau) because he made more with almost zero cost.
“From the same plot of land, I have to wait for the coffee season before I can have some cash in hand. Now, I have money in my pocket to feed my family,” he said.
He said the land was fertile because he had not planted anything else, other than coffee, and,therefore, the condition was ideal for other crops.
“I made about K10,000 from selling kaukau, sugar cane and tobacco in two years from the same plot. This is 50% more than what I can make from coffee.
“I also have plans to try growing oranges and mandarins,” he said.
He said youths, who once grew coffee, were looking for other ways of making money as they realised coffee did not have a large economic potential.
“They have resorted to selling betelnut, illegal trade goods, prostitution and other activities that have contributed directly to the increase in lawlessness,” he said.
Mr Korua said most coffee gardens were run down or had been converted to food gardens.
“I am not trying to discourage coffee farmers. I am just pointing out that the conditions are unfavourable for coffee growers in the villages,” he said.