POWr Social Media Icons

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Africa coffee producing states kicked off a three-day meeting in Nairobi on Thursday to seek ways of reversing the declining coffee production.
All the continent’s coffee producers except Ethiopia and Uganda have witnessed dramatic declines in coffee production in the past two decades or so.

Africa Fine Coffee Association (AFCA) chairman Abdullah Bagersh lamented that the decline in Africa’s coffee production is happening against a backdrop of an increase in world coffee consumption which is growing at an average of two percent.
“It is therefore critical for African coffee producing countries to increase their productivity and quality of their coffees to ensure that farmers realize higher incomes,” he said during the official opening of the 12th African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) Conference and Exhibition.
The latest figures indicate that the global coffee production is about 147 million bags annually with Africa’s production standing at 19.1 million bags.
The continent’s share in world coffee production has declined from a high of 25 percent in 1988 to the current average of 14 percent.

The continent’s biggest producer is Ethiopia, whose annual production is approximately 450,000 metric tons while Uganda produces at 220,000 metric tonnes.
Bagersh said the best way to revitalize the sector is to develop a strong domestic coffee drinking culture.
“When there is a base consumption locally, the farmers will not be too worried about the international price as they will have a ready market,” the chairman said. In Africa, only Ethiopia has a strong coffee drinking culture.
Ethiopia’s high coffee consumption has helped the nation to develop a strong vibrant coffee sector. Bagersh, who is also the Chairman of the Ethiopian Chapter of AFCA, said that approximately half of the country’s production is consumed locally.

He said on average Ethiopian farmers produce 300 kilogrammes per hectare per year compared to the international average of 1, 000 kgs, adding that low returns have forced some African farmers to uproot their coffee trees and plant alternative crops.

As part of plans to revive the continent’s coffee sector, AFCA is planning to launch a coffee fund in order to provide cheap finance to the sector. The fund has already received seed funding of 500,000 U.S. dollars.
“The fund will give coffee farmers bridge finance so that the farmers avoid taking high interest loans from unscrupulous money lenders,” Bagersh said.
He noted that traditionally farmers take high interest loans and this forces them to sell their coffee at low prices in order to repay the loan.
The fund will begin to disburse concessional loans on a pilot basis in the next four months. However, only cooperatives will be eligible for funding.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said African governments have an important role to play in facilitating the development and promotion of the coffee industry in the continent.
“In particular, governments should enhance financial investment in the coffee industry as well as to support production and market research,” Kenyatta said.
He noted that Kenya’s national development blue print Vision 2030 recognizes coffee as one of the critical sub-sectors under the agriculture sector.
“In order to support the sector, the government is undertaking a number of measures aimed at revitalizing the industry,” Kenyatta said.
“These include streamlining the institutional, legal and policy framework, infrastructure improvement and implementation of a credit access framework,” he said.
Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Principal Secretary Sicily Kariuki said the African continent is a source of some of the world’s highest quality coffees in the global market.
“Unfortunately the consumption of coffee in Africa is only about three percent of local production,” she said.

Source: Xinhua