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Stakeholders launch $950M initiative to boost African coffee industry productivity

The Inter African Coffee Organisation (IACO) has joined forces with the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) and the International Coffee Organization (ICO) to launch the US$950 million Africa Coffee Facility (ACF).

The ACF aims to boost Africa’s coffee industry and achieve a 40 per cent increase in high-quality exports worth US$5 billion per year.

The IACO says the ACF is projected to transform Africa’s coffee production – currently 10 per cent of the global coffee market – into a vibrant and resilient industry again. Coffee is a primary source of income for more than 12 million households in Africa and contributes a significant proportion of tax income in a number of these countries.

The largest annual export value of African countries is recorded by Ethiopia at US$762.8 million annually, followed by Uganda at US$468.4 million, Kenya at US$229.5 million, and Tanzania at US$129.2 million.

“We need to build the capacity of our smallholder producers as well as revamp our producer organisations, empower women and the youth through entrepreneurship development. This includes a value chain transformation from a subsistence to an entrepreneurial orientation among our farmers,” says Mwangi Kiunjuri, Cabinet Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries of Kenya.

In 2019, the Government of Kenya allocated 3 billion Kenya Shillings (equivalent to USD 30 million) towards supporting coffee producers.

“Africa produces some of the highest-quality and much-loved coffee in the world but its contribution to the global coffee trade has declined significantly since the 1970s when nearly a third of all coffee was produced on the continent,” says Dr Fred Kawuma, Secretary General of the IACO.

“The ACF is an ambitious fund which seeks to attract private and public sector investment to transform Africa’s coffee industry from a subsistence to a commercial entity where millions of smallholder coffee farms will see their livelihoods significantly enhanced.”

Key aims of the ACF – over its 10-year tenure – will be to invest US$500 million in building a sustainable coffee supply, US$100 million on improving demand, market linkages, and investments, US$200 million on putting in place climate change adaptation and environmentally resilient practices, and US$150 million promoting knowledge management and dissemination.

“Although many initiatives have been taken in some countries, many challenges still hamper the achievement of a sustainable coffee sector in Africa,” says Dr Denis Seudieu, Chief Economist at the ICO.

“This will enable our farmers to have sustainable income generation and a long-term security of their livelihoods.”

Part of the ACF’s mission, in looking to improve the quality of Africa’s coffee free from crop pests and diseases, making it safe to consumers – an area in which CABI specialises.     

“CABI is delighted to be working in partnership to help create an African coffee industry which is resilient to climate change and strong enough to compete and succeed in a highly competitive and often volatile global market,” says Dr Morris Akiri, Regional Director of CABI Africa.

It is expected that the initial funding of almost US$1 billion will be achieved in the first five years with more to follow as the fund gains momentum.

The ACF plans to enable 50 per cent of farmers to plant climate-smart materials as part of a strategy to see one out of every five coffee farmers adopting climate smart productive systems. By doing so it is envisaged that farmers’ vulnerability to weather events, such as floods and drought, will be reduced by 25 per cent.

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