15th AFCCE in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Remarks of the IACO Secretary General at the Breakfast Meeting of
The Global Producer Forum, 17th February 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to begin by paying tribute to a true friend of the African coffee industry, the late Roberio Oliveira Silva, for his invaluable contribution to the coffee industry. He served as Executive Director of the International Coffee Organisation from 2011 to 2016. May his soul rest in peace.
It is now almost a year, since the idea of a Global Coffee Producer Forum was mooted by our Colombian colleagues. The plan is to hold the Forum in Colombia this year, and the organisers intend to bring together producers from about 40 countries to examine the looming crisis in the coffee industry.
Coffee producers everywhere are currently facing a serious dilemma—to farm or not to farm? Certain dynamics are responsible for rendering coffee farming non-remunerative to the producers, and thus unsustainable. As producers, we need to seriously examine and address the challenges we are facing at different levels of the coffee value chain.
Through several high-level presentations made by scientists, university professors, and various coffee specialists, we have been taught how to attain sustainability as producers. Implementing these recommendations looks appealing and much as this pleases consumers, producers on the other hand are not being fairly compensated, leaving their livelihoods and future at stake. The grave implication might be the risk of neglect of coffee production, which could create a serious deficit that would plunge the global market into chaos.
The purpose of the Forum is to explore ways in which coffee prices could be improved. Although the fundamentals indicate that demand is quite strong, supply is not growing at the same pace. The truth of the matter is that farmers are very concerned about low prices. What I believe should be done, is to draw attention to the producer’s dilemma, re-examine the market fundamentals, and agree on the appropriate course of action. A better future for all stakeholders should be ensured by addressing the producers’ concerns. This means that the Forum should have a producer-oriented look at the industry, and examine the scenarios that should be considered in achieving the desired state of our industry in the future.
Africa is always keen on collaborating with the other regions in seeking solutions to the daunting problems. The expected outcome is improved livelihoods for the small-holder producers so that coffee could contribute to the transformation of the economies of African nations. The Inter-African Coffee Organisation (IACO) is pleased to be a part of this, and we look forward to a fruitful dialogue in line with the objectives of the Global Coffee Producers Forum.
I hope, Ladies and Gentlemen, that the Forum will attract massive participation from all the producing regions, that the deliberations will move the agenda forward, and that concrete solutions to avert the looming coffee crisis will be adopted. It is also my desire that firm commitments will be made to implement the recommendations for the ultimate benefit of the global coffee industry and most significantly for the survival of the coffee producers.
Secretary General of IACO