ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA | Xinhua | While specialty coffee from Africa is gaining popularity among consumers across the world, officials of the African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) have urged African coffee traders to boost value-added coffee export, and cease export of unprocessed coffee to the international market.

The remark came during the 20th African Fine Coffees Conference and Exhibition and the First African Coffee Week that took place from Feb. 6 to 10 in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, with the aim of advocating the export of value-added coffee from Africa.

The event has brought together more than 800 regional and international coffee roasters, traders, producers, buyers and professionals to discuss policies, sustainability, access to finance and international market regarding coffee industry.

Amir Hamza, chairperson of the AFCA, said coffee exporting African countries need to concentrate on value addition and apply better marketing strategies to boost their earnings from the coffee export.

“The biggest problem Africa is facing is poor marketing approaches and export of unprocessed coffee, something the AFCA is trying to solve. Africa has the best coffees, but they are not marketed as they should be,” Hamza told Xinhua in an interview.

He encouraged African coffee exporting companies to intensify trade promotions, broaden markets while concentrating on quality raising and processing to meet the demands of importing markets and to establish brands for sustainable exports.

“After the green beans are exported from Africa, they will be blended and roasted by companies outside the continent, particularly by those companies in Europe and the United States and then they will be sold in the Middle and Far East as coffee products from other origins,” he said.

According to data obtained from AFCA, coffee exports from Africa were valued at over 3.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2022. Ethiopia was the leading exporter, earning around 1.5 billion U.S. dollars, followed by Uganda with an export value of nearly 813 million U.S. dollar during the same year.

The chairperson urged the coffee industry in Africa to shift its focus to improving product quality and aligning with market taste trends, especially in the major coffee consumption markets, which account for around half of global coffee imports, including the EU and the U.S.

Hamza said the expanding inter-Africa trade would give one of the best opportunities for African coffee producing countries to fetch better income from their coffee exports in the coming years.

According to AFCA, non-coffee producing African countries such as Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Algeria and Morocco as well as Nigeria and South Africa will be the most important destinations for the coffee market in Africa.

Speaking about forthcoming European Union’s Deforestation Regulations (EUDR), a move that threatens a significant portion of coffee exports to the economic bloc, Hamza said Africa imports more volume of coffee than it exports and he believes that the regulation would little affect Africa’s coffee export.

AFCA’s Executive Director Gilbert Gatali told Xinhua that the majority of coffee growers in Africa are not getting the right price for their products due to poor marketing strategies and agricultural practices.

“Coffee growers in Africa lack the necessary knowledge and technology to produce high quality coffee,” said the executive director, encouraging traders in the continent to collaborate and establish production chains, making it more feasible to adopt modern technology and promote the shift from raw to processed coffee export.

He further said Africa’s coffee production and export have been influenced by rising inflation, geopolitical impacts and increasing fertilizer costs, urging coffee exporting companies to closely monitor the market for suitable business and production strategies.

Gatali urged coffee buyers and governments to support farmers in increasing their knowledge and skills of coffee agronomical practices besides helping them get the right prices for their products at the international market.

“Climate change, access to inputs, intermediaries which negatively affect the final income of coffee growers, low volume yields and access to market remain to be challenges for coffee producing countries in Africa,” he added.

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