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Theta Ridge Coffee

Coffee and Tea Reports
from the Front Lines

Kenya Tea and Forestry Groups Join Up for Research
NAIROBI, KENYA - The Tea Research Foundation of Kenya (TRFK) and the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for collaborative research and development at the TRFK.

The MOU will enable the two research institutions to undertake joint research projects aimed at, among other things, strengthening capacity for research and management of trees in tea farms and estates.

The project is aimed at finding solutions to a number of weather and environmental problems that have plagued the tea industry in the last two years, namely drought, hail and frost. In a joint press statement, the directors of TRFK and KEFRI, Jeremiah Rutto and Dr. Paul Konuche respectively, say the problems facing tea farming arise out of change in land use - from forest to agriculture.

Change in land use, they say, has resulted in unpredictable weather patterns and decline in water catchments due to rapid deforestation, which has recently led to severe drought and frost that has affected tea production this past year.

The research and development project also aims at finding suitable shade trees for tea bushes and adequate and sustainable fuel wood for farmers in tea growing areas.

The initial research will focus on the following: developing tree species which can be interplanted with tea to improve micro-climate; creating a better understanding of the role of forests and catchment areas in regulating climate; sensitizing policy makers on the importance of sustaining a proper forest/agriculture interface balance; and diversifying wood fuel species and enhancing production in tea growing areas.

Last year, tea production fell sharply following the effects of drought, which was blamed on the dry La Nina weather phenomenon, hail and frost. Researchers link the unfavorable weather to forest destruction in the catchment areas adjoining tea growing regions.

Guatemala Attempts To Increase Coffee Consumption
GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA - As income from coffee, its biggest export, declines, Guatemala is trying everything possible to reap economic benefit from its crop.

Due to falling international prices, Guatemala has been doing everything from using the worst of the harvest for fuel to selling the best direct to vendors through a record-breaking internet auction.

Although Guatemala, the world’s fifth biggest exporter, produces some of the best coffee in the world, its inhabitants prefer to mix it with maize and other material.

Anacafé, a partnership between government and the private sector, has launched a national coffee association to persuade Guatemala’s 12 million people to drink more coffee of better quality. Billboards and television advertisements have promoted pure coffee and supermarkets have hosted taste tests.

Anacafé has taken other measures: it has signed a contract with a local cement company to burn coffee as fuel for its furnaces, but says it remains a pilot project. There are problems with fuel efficiency. Also, in June it offered the country’s 15 best coffees at an internet auction that achieved record prices.

The combination of measures needs to take effect soon. Export income, which amounted to $598m in the export year to September 2000, is expected to be halved this year for an industry that supports 300,000 full-time and 400,000 seasonal workers.

Online Tea Auctions Held
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - Sri Lanka’s top tea broker will launch an online auction site, and expects it to handle about US$55 million worth of the country’s main export, reports the Australian.

Forbes and Walker say the online auctions will start within weeks, but foreigners will not be eligible to take part.

Tea trading is normally restricted to public weekly auctions, which make Colombo the world’s biggest tea trading center.

About 10% of Sri Lanka’s tea can be sold through private channels, which is the area Forbes is aiming to tap.

“We are not trying to undermine the existing system,” chairman Chrisantha Perera says.

“We are giving greater exposure to the private sellers to attract the best possible price.”

Third Brazilian Internet Auction Held
SANTOS, BRAZIL - The Brazilian Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA) as part of the government’s program, “Cafés do Brasil”, has announced the conditions for the 3rd Gourmet Coffee Contest with the winning lots to be auctioned November 27, 20001 on the internet.

The objectives of the contest are the following: to promote the campaign, “Cafés do Brasil” by demonstrating Brazil’s capacity to produce coffee of exceptional quality to international markets; to develop a system of identifying the origin of specialty coffees similar to the marketing of wines; and to develop new channels of marketing that will make possible the direct contact between producers and roasters through the internet.

The samples submitted will be classified by a panel of Brazilian experts and reduced to 50 finalists. The selected final lots will then be judged by a commission of International experts presided by George Howel, consultant. Depending on the level of quality of the coffees presented, the international panel will select up to 30 lots for sale by International auction on the internet.

Last year’s auction in December succeeded in selling 18 lots of the 477 samples submitted and obtaining an average premium of us$102 per bag over the going market.

The Brazilian Specialty Coffee Contest is also supported through a partnership arrangement with the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE). The export of the coffees negotiated, including documentation, transport and shipment quality control will be handled, as in the past, by COOXUPÉ, the Guaxupé Coffee growers Cooperative. - By Harry C. Jones

Coffee Trees to Counteract Global Warming
FT. BRAGG, CA - When Thanksgiving Coffee, a northern California gourmet coffee company asked a non-profit group that measures greenhouse gases to evaluate their operations, they found out that they may be doing some damage to the environment, and they chose to do something about it.

After considering the fuel that goes into the trucks and ships that transport the coffee, the propane that heats the roasters, and even the electricity used to run lights and computers, Maryland-based Trees for the Future determined that Thanksgiving Coffee was adding 553 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere annually. In addition, they even calculated the amount of carbon dioxide that is released when Thanksgiving’s customers brew their coffee - a whopping 1,000 tons. To offset that impact, the coffee roaster is partnering with Trees for the Future to plant an estimated 69,000 trees in the East African nation of Ethiopia, where some of the world’s best coffee is produced.

Trees reduce global warming through photosynthesis, by taking in carbon dioxide and letting out oxygen into the atmosphere. As part of their natural growth process, plants take carbon out of the atmosphere and put it back in the soil and biomass.

“We recognize that true sustainability means not causing any harm, so we are continually taking steps to reduce our waste emissions at the source,” says Thanksgiving c.e.o. Paul Katzeff. “We know that we cannot make up for the full environmental impacts of our operations,” Katzeff added, “but we believe that this project will help offset our carbon emissions and have a beneficial effect on the lives of thousands of Ethiopian families.”

At a cost of $90 per acre, Thanksgiving Coffee will fund the planting of 21,000 trees the first year. The project will work with a local organization called Beam of Hope, in an area about 80 miles southwest of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. The majority of the money will go to train local leaders in agroforestry techniques.



Tea & Coffee - September/October 2001
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