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Joint EA coffee marketing seen as way to lift earnings

By | February 12th 2010

By Philip Mwakio

Government has proposed the joint marketing of specialty coffee from the region.

Agricuture Minister William Ruto said the East African Community (EAC) member states should create synergies and jointly market their specialty coffee to attract good returns.

He said this would see specialty fine coffees from the region fetch good prices in the international market.

Mr Ruto said individual members states would achieve little by going it alone.

"EAC governments and the private sector should be encouraged to work together and create a platform that will enable coffee producers reap maximum benefits," he said.

Low market share

Ruto observed that Africa’s share of the global coffee market was just 10 per cent, with a paltry three per cent of the coffee produced consumed locally.

The Minister spoke yesterday at the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort in Mombasa, during the opening of 7th African Fine Coffee Conference & Exhibition organised by the Eastern African Fine Coffees Association (EAFCA).

"There is need to put our heads together and ensure that mechanisms to encourage local consumption are put into place here," Ruto said.

He commended Ethiopia, the biggest producer of coffee from the region for having encouraged her people to consume their own coffees.

Ruto at the same time said the recent unveiling of the Kenyan coffee brand was timely, and should be supported by all.

He said the coffee brand ‘So rich, So Kenyan’ is a step in the right direction, and would ensure quality Kenyan coffee remains the preferred commodity to consumers. "Coffee as a drink reduce incidences of certain types of cancer, and improves alertness of mind and body," Ruto said.

EAFCA Executive Director Philip Gitao said the conference whose theme is ‘A Celebration at the Gateway’, said the event presents opportunities to network and get together for coffee producers, researchers, equipment manufacturers and buyers.

Popularity increasing

EAFCA chairman Lesli Omar on his part said the event has, since its inception drawn popular with member states as it ensures key players in the coffee sub-sector are able to have market linkages and create a platform for exposure and showcase highly quality coffees.

Omar thanked Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) for ensuring efficiency at the facility, which serves coffee exporters from the region.

"We appreciate the role played by the port of Mombasa in handling the increasing growth of coffee exports to the outside world consumers," he said.

The conference is expected to deliberate on the African coffee market, and how the global recession has affected it, leverage on coffee branding, positive benefits of negative global economy, coffee trading windows in Africa, the new Ethiopia coffee exchange, liberalisation of coffee sector in Burundi and how China has been trading with African countries among others.

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