Coffee producers want bloc to declare it a strategic commodity

Framers sort coffee berries before taking them to the Pulping Machine. November 26, 2021 [Muriithi Mugo, Standard]

Africa’s coffee producers are pushing to have the crop declared a strategic agricultural commodity in the African Union Agenda 2063.

Representatives of 25 countries at the G25 Coffee Summit in Nairobi said coffee is an important commodity whose performance needs to be evaluated. The three-day summit organised by the InterAfrican Coffee Organisation (IACO) and the Ministry of Agriculture ends today.

Speaking at the event, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said coffee is one of the most traded commodities, second only to crude oil.

He said the summit gave the 25 African countries an opportunity to re-evaluate coffee in terms of production, processing, value addition and marketing and to explore its future growth and opportunities in Africa.

Fair compensation

“We are also challenged to peer review against the leading global producers including Brazil, Vietnam and Columbia and Indonesia among other leaders in the coffee production,” Mr Munya said.

He said as with other crops, there is increasing sensitivity around environmentally sustainable cultivation, ethical production practices, fair compensation for small-scale farmers and the role of the crop in benefits to the local communities.

The CS said Africa should ensure that its farmers receive fair financial benefit so that their hard work leads to a decent and stable life.

“As we assess production and the continent’s declining share of the global output, how can we ensure that African coffee production is boosted in a manner that mitigates against climate change, and other key environmental concerns?” he posed.

IACO Chairman and Uganda’s Minister of Agriculture Frank Tumwebaze said Africa has an opportunity to benefit from the  African Continental Free Trade Area, which provides for free movement of persons, capital, goods and service, promotion of agricutural development, food security, industalisation and structural economic transformation.

“We are requesting the African Union to include coffee as an agricultural commodity in the AU Agenda 2063, as coffee defines us and our livelihoods and we cannot afford to continue having it excluded from the big agenda,” he said.

Mr Tumwebaze said Uganda’s experience can be adopted by the continent as a strategy in increasing production and supporting coffee stakeholders in a sustainable way.

He said Uganda is currently Africa’s largest coffee exporter and 70th globally, and this can mainly be attributed to the successful policies initiated by the government combined with partnerships with farmer groups, associations, civil society and service providers.

Mr Munya said reforms in Kenya over the last three years have lifted barriers to allow farmers to participate effectively in the coffee value chain.

For instance, under the new regulations, six coffee unions were licensed by the Capital Markets Authority as brokers, enabling them to directly market their coffee.

The Kipkelion District Cooperative Union recently exported 134.4 tonnes of coffee to South Korea, earning over Sh103 billion on the sale.

Farmers are also receiving higher pay locally on their produce, with some societies paying up to Sh125 per kilogramme of cherry. 

Tanzania’s Agriculture Minister Hussein Bashe said putting coffee as one of the key agendas will help Africa address the challenges faced by farmers.

Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Ann Nyaga said coffee production has been declining due to challenges such as climate change, perennial price volatility, market access and low domestic consumption.

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