9th African Fine Coffees Conference Breaks All Records in Ethiopia
COMPETE’s long-time partner, the African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA), held its 9th African Fine Coffees Conference and Exhibition from February 16-18, 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event brought together more than 1,000 producers, exporters, importers, roasters and service/equipment providers to discuss critical issues such as: global market trends, certification and sustainability, and programs and issues impacting women in coffee. From an industry perspective, the ability to develop relationships and conduct business during the AFCA conference makes it the most important event on the African coffee industry calendar. The success of the AFCA event has attracted other key coffee stakeholders to hold additional industry events that dovetail the main AFCA conference and exhibition. This included the 7th Annual Coffee Scientific Conference that brought together the research and scientific community to discuss the latest in coffee research and development and the 2nd Annual African Sustainability Forum sponsored by the 4C Association that brought together key industry players to review progress on efforts to improve the economics, social, and environmental conditions of coffee production and processing.
COMPETE’s strategic, technical and financial assistance to AFCA over the course of the project has helped build their institutional capacity and the success of this year’s conference, which was the first time they organized the event without COMPETE’s grant support, demonstrates how far the organization has come. AFCA’s success is also a model to other regional industry trade association’s for how to build a product that helps with sustainability and furthers the development of other core products and services.
The profits from the annual conference typically cover the AFCA’s operating costs and this year, the expected surplus of approximately $350,000-$500,000 should help support core programs such as the Taste of Harvest (TOH), a regional coffee cupping competition COMPETE is helping AFCA expand into a strong regional brand. TOH is held in all AFCA producing countries and identifies and profiles the region’s specialty coffees immediately after harvest when interest from global buyers is highest. The unique data AFCA collects each year during TOH enables it to more effectively market the region’s coffees and deliver real value to both producers and buyers by facilitating deals and direct relationships and shortening the value chain. All of this helps drive more value upstream in the value chain and reward the region’s smallholders for producing quality coffee.