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Ethiopia, Africa must add value to coffee exports: ECEAMonday, November 03, 2014 > 11:12:59
Coffee-growing African countries – including Ethiopia – appear unable to add meaningful value to their coffee exports, a senior official at the Ethiopian Coffee Exporters' Association (ECEA) said.
"The value-adding on coffee to any meaningful degree is not apparent on the [African] continent," ECEA General Manager Alemseged Assefa told Anadolu Agency.
"For the foreseeable future, our country – and many of the [African] coffee-growing countries – will continue trading only in coffee beans," he lamented.
"The work of roasting, packaging, retailing and other work in the coffee value chain has long been monopolized by big companies," he said. "It would be very difficult now to break that dominance."
Meanwhile, he said, there were a few businesses engaged in coffee export that were trying to add value – but these, he added, "[still] lack scale."
Ethiopia, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda are the main producers of coffee in Africa, with Ethiopia being the continent's leading coffee grower.
Producers in Africa accounted for about 12 percent of the global coffee supply and less than 11 percent of global coffee exports in the 2009/10 season, according to the African Development Bank Group.
According to Assefa and ECEA President Hussein Agraw, the association plans to hold the third International Ethiopian Coffee Conference on November 6 and 7 under the banner, "Towards Quality and Traceability."
The conference aims to "examine the quality level of our coffee and discuss ways of further improving the quality level… [and] to understand how quality is linked to marketing and better pricing," Agraw told AA.
It also aims to introduce international research efforts for quality control, increasing market access through the introduction of traceability systems that will ultimately improve the sustainability, quality, safety and security of Ethiopian fine coffees, he said.
More than 300 producers, suppliers, exporters, cooperatives, coffee researchers, experts, investors, pertinent government institutions (such as the ministries of trade and agriculture), the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange, companies from coffee-importing countries and roasters are expected to attend the event.
Meanwhile, Assefa told AA that, last year, Ethiopian coffee exports were dismal, although they were expected to show improvement this year.
"Dry weather in Brazil, the global leader in coffee growing and export, will drive both demand and price up for Ethiopian coffee," he predicted.
Brazil exports roughly half of the total global export of Arabica coffee.
During the 2014/15 fiscal year, said Assefa, Ethiopia is set to export between 235,000 and 250,000 tons of Arabica coffee.
According to Assefa, Ethiopia is also planning to expand its global reach by entering markets in India, China, South Korea and Russia.
Coffee used to account for 60 percent of Ethiopia's total exports. This share has dwindled to a current 22 percent, however, due to a successful export-diversification scheme by the government, according to an earlier ECEA statement.