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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

Coffee Assists In The Improvement of Living Conditions

Vietnam - According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development coffee has contributed to improving the living conditions of one million growers, especially ethnic minority people in the Central Highlands.

According to recent statistics, Viet Nam produces between 750,000 and 800,000 tons of coffee per year, 90% of which are being exported. As a result, price fluctuations in international markets greatly affect the country’s coffee market.

To cope with these fluctuations, many experts have suggested that coffee import-export businesses try to sell directly to coffee processors and participate in international futures market in order to minimise losses.

Vice President of the Viet Nam Coffee-Cocoa Association (Vicofa) Doan Trieu Nhan said that prolonged drought has caused a sharp reduction in coffee supply by Viet Nam and Brazil. The coffee output of the 2005-06 crop is forecast to decrease by 30-40%.

However, the Trade Information Centre under the Ministry of Trade forecast that Viet Nam’s coffee export value remains high, reaching around $950 million this year.

Treaties Cited in tea machines dispute

Kenya - The minister for Labor contravened two regional treaties when they recently banned the use of tea-plucking machines.

The attorney-general told the court to uphold the doctrine of separation of powers as the Central Organization of Trade Unions insisted that the machines should be banned to protect jobs in line with the Government’s pledge to create more employment.

James Finlay and Sotik Tea Companies also told the court that Dr Newton Kulundu’s directive had interfered with the industry and created “uncertainty.” They also said Dr Kulundu breached the Comesa (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and East African Community treaties when he ordered members of the Tea Growers Association to stop using the machines.

The firms, through lawyer Esther Kinyenje, told Lady Justice Roselynne Wendoh that the Comesa pact stipulated that “member states shall promote rural development through the promotion of appropriate technologies.”

She said the EAC pact provides that member countries shall strengthen the private sector by providing an enabling environment. “The minister’s directive goes against the spirit of the two treaties,” she said, adding: “The two treaties are applicable to Kenya since it has signed up to both.”

Kinyenje said the minister exceeded his powers when he gave the directive because “the Trade and Disputes Act only provides for the minister to give directives in respect to strikes and workers’ issues and not the introduction of new technologies.”

An order by the court to recall and quash the minister’s directive will infringe on the principle of separation of powers, he added.

If the firms are allowed to use the machines many jobs will be lost and that will not be helping the Government which promised to create 500,000 jobs every year,” Cotu lawyer Judith Guserwa said.

Tea & Coffee - December, 2006


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