10 March 2016

Africa: Int'l Coffee Conference Successful - Ministry

The Ministry of Farming and Natural Resources Development said Tuesday that the 4th International Coffee Conference which was held early this week concluded successfully.

Over 1,500 participants including 500 representatives of foreign companies discussed ways of increasing coffee production globally.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, State Minister Wondirad Mandefro said fruitful discussions were held to improve both the quality and volume of coffee. Companies were also able to conduct successful business-to-business meeting, create market chains, and share experiences, among others, he said.

The conference also provided an opportunity to promote Ethiopian coffee culture and show that the country is not only the origin of coffee but also mankind, the State Minister added.

According to Wondirad, the government of Ethiopia is working to benefit millions of women in the value chain of coffee.

He said Ethiopia is striving to increase the quality of coffee Arabica and coffee specialties by integrating traceability and accessibility.

Coffee price and volatility, trends in coffee specialty, climate change and coffee were the main talking points of the two-day conference.

Meanwhile, the African Union Commission (AUC) has highlighted on the pressing need to improve the quality of coffee produced in the continent.

AUC Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha called on delegates of the coffee conference to work for the betterment of Africa's coffee industry.

Most African countries need to work further to meet standards of coffee at international markets, according to the Deputy Chairperson.

Citing climate change as a problem for quality coffee and its production volume, Mwencha indicated poor infrastructure, capacity and technology limitations as the key drawbacks which reduce earnings in the industry.

According to him, Africa has ideal agro-ecological zones but it is yet to benefit from its resources.

He underscored the need for establishing partnership and cooperation to boost coffee productivity in the continent.

Other African countries take lessons from Ethiopia and Uganda due to their coffee productivity as well as commitment to support their coffee producers, he said.

According to information from the International Coffee Organization, Ethiopia is expected to increase its coffee production by six percent.

African Development Bank (AfDB) Representative Geraldine J. Fraser-Moleketi on her part said much remains to be done to improve the coffee sector. If Africans work hard, the coffee sector can create millions of jobs, the representative said.

AfDB has been working to benefit more African women from the coffee sector over the past years, according to Fraser-Moleketi who said over 12 million Africans are engaged in the industry.

Documents show that every year, Africa has a potential to make over USD 19 billion from its coffee industry and currently the continent's coffee production has increased by over sixth percent.

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