Africa coffee producers target youth to boost drink uptake

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Inter-Africa Coffee Organisation (IACO) Secretary-General Solomon Rutega (centre) at Kenyatta University with Coffee Directorate Official Dr Benson Apuoyo (right). [Boniface Gikandi, Standard]

A pan-African coffee organisation is working with member states towards the promotion of consumption of coffee by locals, saying the trade is highly reliant on the export market.

In the new project, the Inter-Africa Coffee Organisation (IACO) is targeting popularising consumption in military barracks, learning institutions, and petrol stations as new outlets that would cascade the beverage’s consumption in the continent.

IACO Secretary-General Solomon Rutega, who has been visiting the country from Abidjan, regretted that out of 11 million bags of coffee produced in the continent, only one per cent was consumed within the continent.

He spoke at Kenyatta University when Agriculture Ministry’s Chief Administrative Secretary Lawrence Omuhaka opened a modern coffee shop to promote consumption of the beverage locally, especially among the young population.

Consequently, he said, the IACO has developed a new initiative that will boost domestic consumption of coffee, aiming at improving revenue and livelihood to Africa’s coffee farmers.

Rutega said the opening of the coffee outlets in learning institutions in Kenya was a boost for the project. 

“In Kenya, of the annual production of 45 tonnes, 95 per cent is shipped out to the foreign market,” said Rutega, adding that only a fraction went through the value addition chain locally.

The project targets 1.3 billion people below age 35, majority of who are in learning institutions. The organisation said consumption in West Africa had shot up tremendously following the opening of more outlets, a trend that could also work in Eastern Africa.

He said Africa’s 25 coffee-producing countries also had a substantial population of these below 35, and therefore had the potential to make a large market for the beverage.

“I’m delighted that the Kenya Coffee Directorate, through its marketing and Research department, led by Dr Benson Apuoyo, explored the partnership with local public and private universities towards establishing coffee shops in their institutions,” he said.

At the KU coffee shop, out of the budget of Sh2.5 million, the continental coffee organisation injected Sh1.5 million. The coffee directorate pumped a further Sh974,984 in the project.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, in a speech read on his behalf by Dr Omuhaka, said the government was dedicated to liberating coffee farmers from exploitation by draining middlemen in the value chain. He commended efforts by stakeholders to open coffee drinking outlets that stood at close to 395 spreads in the country, up from nine in 1997.

He said the opening of coffee shops at Kenyatta and Egerton universities was a milestone, adding that more learning institutions were interested in the project. “By 2025, we hope to help raise the country’s consumption rate from three per cent to seven per cent of our production, with four more coffee shops planned in the universities,” said Mr Munya.

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