Global coffee demand continues to rise, but small farmers poorly off as prices fall – ICO

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World coffee consumption is continuing to grow at a healthy rate of 2% annually, but millions of coffee growers are selling their coffee at prices that have fallen by over 30% over the last two years, the International Coffee Organization (ICO) said.

Currently, many farmers are unable to cover even their production costs. The consequences of this situation are stark: reduced use of inputs and maintenance of coffee trees, leading to decreased output and lower quality; food insecurity and access to basic services such as education and health services, rural impoverishment; increased migration to urban areas and developed countries; and a host of other social issues, it said in a statement after the 124th Session of the International Coffee Council in Nairobi.

“This downward trend in prices is not expected to reverse in the near future, with the risk that many countries may even cease to produce coffee, leaving the sector much more vulnerable to climatic shocks and to pests and diseases,” the statement added.

As a result, the ICO is implementing a series of actions that focus on advocacy and communication; the mobilisation of coffee stakeholders and development partners; research, knowledge-building and transparency; and the promotion of coffee consumption.

To bring the voices of coffee farmers and of the whole coffee sector to the international arena where decisions are made, the ICO is holding a series of consultative events this year, starting with the Sustainability Seminar held on 25 March 2019 in Nairobi. This will be followed by other events.

It is also producing high-level and relevant independent research and data, including the publication of a Flagship Report on economic sustainability, which will include scenarios on the future of coffee and assessments of the most promising solutions to the current crisis in its effort to increase transparency along the coffee value chain.

Furthermore, the ICO is working hard to mobilise financial and in-kind resources by the private sector and donors, and to implement innovative ideas in order to promote coffee consumption, sensitise consumers on the issues faced by the coffee sector, while projecting a positive image of coffee and advocating for the importance of the coffee sector in the most relevant international forums.

“The ICO has an important role as the voice of the entire world coffee sector to convey this serious situation facing coffee farmers to the outside world, including consumers, the ever-growing roasting community and the wider international community,” said Executive Director José Sette.

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