The 12th high feast of African coffees ended on february 14. Every year the African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) organizes a conference and exposition in the capital of one of its 11 member countries. Until recently it was an association of East African coffees, but because 90% of the African coffee comes from the East, they have opted for a continental profile. Thanks to the investments of CFC/ICO, Cordaid and DGD, the cooperatives supported by VECO managed to cause a stir on the exposition.
Some thousand people from all over the world attended the conference. Though Kenya's president, Uhuru Kenyatta, who did not consider the event as sufficiently important, was conspicuous by his absence. But maybe he did not show up because during the last years Kenya's production dropped considerably, from 60.000 to 40.000 tons of coffee.
Good news for Africa
The main message of the conference is good news for Africa. Because of climate change in Brazil the yield was a bit disappointing there, and the drought will still have an adverse effect on the 2016 yield because of less flowering. So there is a window of opportunity for African coffee. For the first time a lot of buyers will be looking to Africa in search of gourmet coffees. And if the first contacts go well, they will undoubtedly turn into long lasting market relations, as both the growing population and the increasing appetite for a nice cup that cheers in the middle-income countries ensure an enduring 3% annual increase of demand.
So this is good news for the African coffee farmer. Even if he is still very much unaware of the possible effects of the climate change on African coffee. Here maybe more shocks can be expected. This should urgently be studied thoroughly for a country like Congo, lest new plantations, which anyway should last a few decades, be located in the wrong places.
Congo in the spotlight
For Congo this important coffee event was a great success. Last year, on the 11th Conference in Bujumbura, I expressed my surprise about the fact that Congo did not have a booth of its own in the exposition hall, and apparently had never had one. This time I had made an appeal to all members of the Congo chapter of the AFCA to share the high cost of rent for a booth. Our president had taken this to heart very much, and had also ensured that the AFCA secretariat agreed to this. Even if not every single Congo member had paid his contribution, the booth was there and attracted a lot of visitors. Those were even more looking forward to the Congo coffee cupping that was organized in the morning of the last day (Valentine's Day). In January the annual competition Taste of Harvest took place in Kampala. The coffee producers of every AFCA member state compete there for the best quality and for the 5 winners of each country a taste is organized on the exposition.