World Coffee Producers Forum to Become a Non-Profit Organisation
The executive committee of the World Coffee Producers Forum (WCPF) met in México City, Mexico, on 8 and 12 April during the 121st Session of the International Coffee Organization (ICO), to analyse and discuss several topics concerning the sustainability of the global coffee value chain, especially the constant decrease in the income of coffee growers during the past three decades, that compromises their economic sustainability.
The devastating consequences of the current coffee prices on producers drew special attention. “How can we expect the next generation, our children, to stay in coffee production if they see that their parents cannot even satisfy their basic needs after decades of work,” says René León, executive director of Promecafé.
Pursuant to the challenges the global coffee industry faces, one of the major topics discussed was to start the process to formalise the structure of the WCPF as a not-for-profit organisation that will address and raise awareness of the challenges of the coffee value chain, especially those related to the economic and social situation of the coffee growers and will look for mechanisms that will improve their social and economic situation. The 1st World Coffee Producers Forum met in Medellín, Colombia, in July 2017, with close to 1,500 attendees from 41 countries.
Challenges include trying to improve producers’ income, through joint work with the rest of the supply chain on initiatives that will translate into actions to – among others – expand consumption, increase coffee prices, address the consequences of climate change and enhance productivity in coffee producing countries.
According to William Murray, CEO of the National Coffee Association (USA), “with some estimates saying that the world will have to double coffee production by 2050, the coffee value chain needs to secure that coffee production is sustainable to meet the future global demand.”
As agreed during its last meeting in Colombia in July 2017, the WCPF commissioned a study to professor Jeffrey Sachs (Special Advisor to the United Nations General Secretary on the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University), to conduct research in Economic and Policy Analysis for Improving Smallholder Coffee Producers’ Incomes. Professor Sachs presented the initial structure of the study to the delegates of the ICO gathered in México, and partial results and findings will be presented in September 2018 and March 2019. The final report will be presented at the 2nd World Coffee Producers Forum that will take place in July 2019.
The representatives of the WCPF will ask the ICO to play a key role to implement some of the initiatives, such as promotion of consumption in producing countries and emerging markets and facilitate the dialogue among all the actors in the coffee chain.
“We need to ensure that coffee production is sustainable and profitable while making sure that that there will be a strong global demand for our product. Coordinated actions among producers, producers’ associations, the coffee industry and the ICO to increase consumption in emerging markets and producing countries are crucial,” says Silas Brasileiro, president of the Conselho Nacional de Café of Brazil.
Ishak Lukenge, board member of the African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) says that “at the current price levels, coffee is just not economically sustainable for millions of coffee farmers in Africa and all over the world. We are all co-responsible to make the coffee value-chain sustainable, but also each one of the links that make it.”
Ric Rhinehardt, president of the Specialty Coffee Association SCA, underscores that “today’s consumers are discerning and demand excellent quality, but also the assurance that their coffee is being produced in a sustainable manner.”
“It is impossible to have a sustainable coffee value chain with an extremely weak first link, the farmers, that does not have an income that makes their activity profitable,” says Roberto Vélez, CEO of the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia.
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