First Africa Coffee Week Propels African Coffee to New Heights

Addis Ababa, February 9/2024 (qw): The 20th African Fine Coffees Conference and Exhibition, accompanied by the inaugural First African Coffee Week, unfolded in Addis Ababa, serving as a groundbreaking event for the advancement of African coffee. Girma Amente, Chairperson of the Inter-African Coffee Organization (IACO) and Agriculture Minister, declared the event’s significance in elevating African coffee through knowledge exchange, collaboration, and innovation within the sector.

Chairperson Girma highlighted coffee’s transformative power, capable of uplifting lives, empowering communities, and driving economic growth across Ethiopia and the continent. With millions of smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs relying on coffee, he emphasized strategic investments in the sector to reduce poverty, generate employment, and boost household incomes.

Solomon Rutega, IACO Secretary General, expressed optimism in overcoming challenges through a united multi-stakeholder approach, emphasizing the crucial role of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in revitalizing the coffee sector and fostering inter-regional trade among coffee-producing countries.

African Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy, and Sustainable Environment, Josefa Sacko, underscored AfCFTA as a catalyst for transforming the African coffee sector. The expansive free trade area covers 55 member countries with a market of 1.4 billion consumers and a combined income of 2.5 trillion USD.

Amir Hamza, Chairperson of the African Fine Coffees Conference (AFCA), hailed the event as the largest coffee conference in Africa, providing a unique platform for collaboration among producers, exporters, roasters, traders, and researchers.

Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority Director-General, Adugna Debela, revealed that approximately 20 million people in Ethiopia are directly or indirectly involved in various activities along the coffee value chain. Despite global coffee price fluctuations, Ethiopia earned 1.33 billion USD in 2023, attributing the success to reforms and amended regulations.

In an exclusive interview on February 8, IACO Secretary General Solomon Rutega praised Ethiopia’s highly competitive coffee, citing its premium quality and global acclaim. He emphasized the advantage of 50 percent local consumption, making it competitive in both domestic and international markets.

Rutega highlighted the strategic importance of AfCFTA in promoting inter-regional trade and creating new markets for coffee-producing countries. He noted that North Africa’s high per capita coffee consumption presented a significant opportunity for African coffee producers.

Regarding the need for a massive transformation in the African coffee sector, Rutega emphasized a unified approach to address challenges and strategize for sectoral transformation. The African Coffee Week in Addis Ababa was identified as a historic event, bringing together governments, regional authorities, and the private sector from across Africa.

As part of the 20th African Fine Coffees Conference and Exhibition, Rainforest Alliance hosted a Sustainability Day in Addis Ababa, focusing on ‘Brewing a Greener Future: Navigating Coffee Farming in a Changing Climate.’

Marla Naidoo, Director of Rainforest Alliance, urged partners to strengthen regenerative coffee farming to combat climate change and biodiversity loss. The event aimed to stimulate dialogue on critical issues faced by the sector, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and inequality.

Dr. Vanusia Nogueira, a Board Member of Rainforest Alliance, emphasized the need for collective efforts and systematic approaches to build resilience in the face of climate change and biodiversity loss. The organization collaborates with various sectors to ensure the sustainability of coffee farming globally.

Dr. Adugna Debela, Director General of the Ethiopia Coffee and Tea Authority, acknowledged the challenges posed by climate change, market fluctuations, and logistical disruptions to the coffee industry. He stressed the importance of collaborative efforts to address industry hurdles, safeguard the livelihoods of coffee farmers, and ensure the long-term prosperity of the global coffee industry.

Rainforest Alliance, known for its certification activities, also highlighted its broader nature-focused initiatives, including agroforestry and regenerative coffee farming in Eastern Africa. The organization operates in over 58 countries, collaborating with coffee farmers and stakeholders to drive positive change in global supply chains.

The Sustainability Day provided a platform for stakeholders to discuss strategies for navigating coffee farming challenges in the context of a changing climate, reinforcing the commitment to responsible business practices in the coffee industry.

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