On Thursday, August 27, 2015, the Secretary General of the Inter-African Coffee Organization (IACO), Mr. Frederick Kawuma, led an IACO delegation to the African Development Bank (AfDB), for the launching of a new ADB report on “Empowering Women in Agricultural Value Chains in Africa.” Besides AfDB officials, the ceremony brought together the Ivorian organs responsible for agricultural commodities (Cocoa-Coffee Board, etc.), IACO, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Côte d’Ivoire, women operating in the sector and students from the Private Institute for Tropical Agriculture.
Produced jointly by the Office of the Special Envoy on Gender for African Development Bank Group and the Department of Agriculture and Agro Industry, the report entitled “Economic Empowerment of African Women through Equitable Participation in Agricultural Value Chains” focused on four main commodities: Cocoa (Côte d’Ivoire), Coffee (Ethiopia), Cotton (Burkina Faso) and Cassava (Nigeria). McKinsey & Company were hired by the Bank as consultants to support this effort. The report revealed that while 62% of the manpower in these sectors accounts for women, only 21% of the total revenue is received by women.
During the panel discussions organized for this purpose, the IACO Secretary-General, in his intervention, focused on the active participation of women in the coffee value chain in Africa. He mentioned the recent formation of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) championed by prominent women in the specialty coffee movement who desire to see greater participation of women in the coffee value chain. He recommended that the women in coffee in Cote d’Ivoire could open a chapter, as is the case in the East African coffee producing countries. Rwanda and Ethiopia, he highlighted, are two of IACO Member States where attention to quality has been significant, coupled with significant investment efforts in promotion by the respective origins. He noted that the two countries (Ethiopia and Rwanda), which the Bank had already selected as project countries, provide good examples where women are present at all levels of the coffee value chain in Africa, from the farm to the cup.
The SG called for capacity building and support to enable the women attain the full benefit of their invested efforts in the coffee business. This would include training in the intricacies of coffee transformation, acquisition of equipment for roasting and packaging, as well as support in different aspects of marketing. He particularly commended the supportive role played by the Rwandan Government in quality improvement and the promotion of public-private partnerships in the coffee sector. He highlighted the great potential that exists in developing coffee brands marketed by women and sold in high value markets, thus taking advantage of the existing goodwill in the market and the promotion already done by the Rwandan authorities.
By Dominic Kamanan, CDD-IACO