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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

New Coffee Association in Peru

Peru - Female farmers in Peru formed their own coffee association, Café Femenino (www.cafefemeninofoundation.org), as a way to earn more money and assert their independence in a historically male dominated country. Café Femenino, a coffee growing cooperative was conceived when 464 women teamed together through the combined efforts of the Organic Products Trading Company, a coffee importing business based in Vancouver, and the women themselves searching for ideas that would improve the conditions of their lives. Gay Smith and her husband, Garth, owners of OPTCO, have worked with coffee cooperatives for 14 years in countries such as Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Uganda.

The women farmers participate in all coffee growing activities-preparing the terrain, the nurseries, and the compost. They fertilize the soil and prepare bio-fertilizers, as well as harvesting, de-pulping, fermenting, and drying of the coffee. Café Femenino is set up so women can participate in selling the coffee or making decisions on how the money from coffee sales will be used, which it is very rare for the industry.

New Suggestions about the Discovery of Coffee

Turkey - There are several rumors about the discovery of coffee. A recent article from Atlas magazine discussed the archeology of the Anatolia region that is often attributed to commerce, culture, and meeting point of different societies including Europe, Asia, and Africa. The article featured several Hittite hieroglyphics showing photographs of what is believed to be pictures of coffee. The new discovery suggests that as the Hittites spread to a large area it is possible that they used coffee beans.

The Hittites were an Indo-European society established in Corum, Turkey. During the 13th century they became one of the biggest empires in the near east. A century later, the Hittite Empire collapsed with an invasion and the capital city of Hattusa was abandoned.

Although it is believed that the Greeks discovered wine, new Hittite tablets were discovered containing figures of grapes that resemble coffee beans. Many experts question if they are really coffee beans or just figures of a wheat kernel. Archeologists do not have a specific idea but have opened new questions about the discovery of coffee. Many wonder if they used it for drinking or eating or for wine making? As Anatolia was a commerce road, did the Hittites receive coffee from passing caravans? Where did the Hittites first realize the secrets of coffee? What is the secret in those hieroglyphics? Even though there were no crocodiles in Anatolia region they used crocodile figures in their inscriptions, it may be possible that they used coffee from the inspiration of drinks of other societies. - By Ramazan Karakundakoglu.

Dubai Builds Tea Trade In Africa

Africa - The Dubai Tea Trading Centre (DTTC), an initiative of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), recently announced that the Kenyan Tea Development Agency (KTDA) and OCIR, the official Rwandan Tea Authority have joined as an active members.

Kenya is the third largest producer of tea in the world today that controls about 23% of global tea exports and contributes to 4% of Kenya’s GDP and generates in excess of Sh45 billion (US$ 609.75 million) in foreign exchange annually. In 2005, the KTDA was responsible for 60% of Kenya’s total tea production of 329 million kilos, representing over 6% of total global tea production.

Rwanda, which is its largest tea export, had an annual tea production rate of 16.8 million kilos in 2005, with a majority of tea produced by OCIR. “One of the strategic objectives of the DTTC is to strengthen Dubai’s role as focal point for the international tea trade by enabling the availability of a variety of multi-origin teas through the centre,” said Ahmed bin Sulayem, chief operating officer of DMCC. He noted that Kenya and Rwanda are significant examples of this, and expects to see strong interest in African tea from blenders and buyers. Kenyan and Rwandan teas are now being regularly shipped to the center, which are facilitating sales through tea sampling and building awareness.

Until the tie up with DTTC as a sales source, the bulk of the teas produced in Kenya and Rwanda have been sold through the Mombasa Tea Auctions. Samuel Karima, general manager of sales and marketing of KTDA, said that currently, more than 70% of Kenyan tea is shipped to Egypt, Pakistan, the U.K., Afghanistan, and Sudan. “We are seeking to penetrate key world tea markets and widen our reach in order to reduce our dependence on a few markets. We have been impressed with Dubai’s rapid emergence as a significant player in the global tea industry.”

“As one of the world’s major producers of quality tea, we are delighted to partner with the DTTC, and we look forward to a long and fruitful partnership. The KTDA will be utilizing the Dubai Tea Trading Center to complement its current support for the Mombasa auction,” added Karima. The director general of OCIR, Alex Kanyankole, said that in the short time since its inception, the DTTC has established itself as an important point on the world tea trade routes. He added that they are extremely glad to have joined the DTTC as a seller member earlier this year, and look forward to working closely with the center to promote greater volumes of trade in Rwandan teas through the region.

Smuggling of Tea Causes Loss

Islamabad - It is estimated, that recent tea smuggling can be equated to a loss of 48,000 tons of tea, which was bought illegally into during FY06, as compared to 40,000 tons in FY05, thus inflicting a revenue loss of Rs 2b. According to a report published in the Daily Dawn, figures and documents sent by the Pakistan Tea Association (PTA) to the commerce ministry revealed legal tea imports declined by 12.5% to 114,000 tons in FY06 from 130,000 tons in FY05.

The association said that the arrival of tea under the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA) from Kenya alone accounted for the increase of 9,000 tons or 40% of the 32,610 tons imported in FY06 from 23,610 tons in FY05. Tea was also brought under the ATTA from several other countries, namely China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc., which amounted to approximately 15,000 tons.

In case it is not slashed in the trade policy for 2006-07, then the share of smuggled tea will further rise and legal imports will decline to 100,000 tons during this fiscal, he said. Out of the total legal imports of 114,000 tons, the share of packers (Unilever, Tapal, Tetley, etc,) is estimated at 70,000 tons while the rest is imported by traders who sell tea in loose form in the open markets.

The share of tea imports from Kenya declined to 65,511 tons (USD 1.89/kg) in FY06 from 83,176 tons (USD 1.73/kg) in FY05 due to rising prices in Kenya because of the drought. Altaf said that Kenya’s black tea production had been short by 37 million kgs during January to May this year compared to the same period last calendar year. Due to the increase in Kenyan tea prices, leading packers in Pakistan had enhanced the rate of their brands by 7-8% in April-May. The frequent exchange of delegations of the PTA, Indian Tea Board, and leading packers of India had resulted in the doubling of tea imports in Pakistan to 9,538 tons as compared to 5,000 tons.

Tea & Coffee - September/October, 2006


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