Africa's coffee sector


Earlier this month, International Coffee Organization (ICO), The Inter African Coffee Organisation (IACO) and the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) joined forces to design an emergency intervention programme to recover the impact of COVID-19 had on Africa’s coffee sector.

The initiatives are estimated to cost EUR 12 million. EUR 9.6 million, will be met through grants from Development Partners with an additional EUR 2.4 million drawn from counterpart contribution of the recipient countries.

The programme supported by the African Union Commission has been proposed to the European Commission for consideration. It has also been submitted to the International Coffee Council for endorsement during its forthcoming session in September 2020

The programme aims to reduce the market disruption, food, nutrition and income security challenges facing millions of smallholder coffee farmers across 11 countries for an initial three-year period.

The impact posed by COVID-19 caused on Africa’s agricultural sector remains critical as ICO projects a loss of exports valued between $100 million and $200 million, potentially affecting 6.6 million jobs in the coffee sector, particularly in the East Africa region.

This pandemic has dealt a major blow to the coffee economy. World prices were already bad for producers at the beginning of the year before COVID-19.

Unfortunately, the outbreak worsened the downward trend in coffee price to the disadvantage of vulnerable smallholder producers. This is why we are working towards building resilience that will protect our producers.”

Dr Fred Kawuma, Secretary General of IACO

Many more factors are affecting the African coffee chain, leading to stockpiling of the coffee farms, reduced price to growers, reduced consumption due to coffee roasting and distribution closures.

The organisations aim to address these challenges and add to ongoing efforts under Africa Coffee Facility (ACF) set up to promote domestic coffee consumption in the continent. The program adds to support systems and agricultural practices which will ensure sustainable intensification of smallholder coffee farming systems in a manner that ensures income security devoid of the price shocks in the international markets, guarantee food and nutrition security of the smallholder coffee systems and promote the creation of entrepreneurial jobs beyond farming, both in the rural and urban areas.

In the medium and long term, the resilience created will make operators eligible for loan financing requests and the ability to consolidate their investments, thus creating business for the banks.

In the immediate term, the programme will focus on building a system where coffee smallholders are enabled to earn living incomes by systematically incorporating high-value nutritious crops that provide income during coffee off-seasons.

It will consequently ensure that producing countries remain food secure amid reduced food imports due to COVID-19 and mitigate any future disruptions.

Dr Morris Akiri, CABI’s Regional Director added that in addition to ensuring income, food and nutrition security, the proposed complementary crops will form the basis for developing rural-based Small and Medium Enterprises in aggregation, grading, packaging and distribution of coffee and produce from the associated crops.

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