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General News of Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Source: GNA

Ghana to host international coffee forum

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Accra, Nov. 17, GNA - Ghana is to host the 49th Annual General Assembly (AGA) of the International African Coffee Organisation (IACO) from November 23 to 27 2009, Chief Executive Officer of Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr Tony Fofie announced in Accra on Tuesday.

The Assembly, which coincides with the 8th General Meeting of the African Coffee Research Netwowk (ACRN), the research wing of IACO, would serve as a platform to discuss and exchange information between its members on the challenges to the growth of the coffee industry on the continent. It is also aimed at offering IACO member countries the opportunity to discuss activities of the ACRN and their impact on solving problems confronting stakeholders in the coffee value chain in Africa. On the sidelines of the AGA, a workshop on coffee statistics aimed at building capacity of countries to enable them improve on their compliance of the statistical rules of the International Coffee Organization would be held.

Besides, a training session on the evaluation of gourmet Robusta coffee quality would be organised for selected trainees from at least four Robusta producing member countries including Ghana to build their capacity in coffee liquoring and assessment of the grade and quality of Robusta coffee for the gourmet market.

Mr Fofie said coffee comes next to oil on the international commodity trade and represented the world's most valuable tropical agricultural commodity.

Statistics indicate that about 40 million people in the major coffee producing countries in Africa derived their livelihood from the commodity. Africa currently produces about 12 percent of coffee globally. Mr Fofie said Ghana would use the AGA as a launch-pad to revamp its coffee industry to realize the full potential of the sector. He said performance of the sector in 2007 and 2008 in the country indicated that with the necessary support, revenue from coffee could be substantially increased to supplement government's revenue from other sources to aid its development agenda. Ghana earned 1,331,308 Dollars and 2,767,378 Dollars from coffee exports in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

Mr Fofie noted that even though coffee production in Ghana dated back to the 18th century, at a time that cocoa production also started, its growth had not been encouraging.

He said coffee production generally had been low since they were usually grown on small farm holdings.

But the COCOBOD, he said, would take advantage of the programme to encourage coffee farmers in Ghana to increase production, promote the consumption of the commodity locally and institute measures to add value to coffee for export to emerging markets.

IACO is an intergovernmental organization made up of 25 African coffee producing countries. It was formed in 1960 with 11 initial founding members namely: Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo DRC, Cote d'Ivoire, Benin, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Uganda and Tanzania. Its members increased to 25 when 14 other countries, Burundi, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe joined the organization. The primary objective of IACO is to take up challenges associated with the world coffee sector through regional and international cooperation to protect the interest of African Coffee producers and economies. Thus the organization seeks to study problems related to African coffee, maintain contact between African producer countries and the national, regional and international coffee organizations and ensure a balance between demand and supply that will guarantee remunerative prices for the African producers.

Other issues that the organisation addresses are the adoption of a unit policy of marketing coffee and promotion of the consumption of coffee at the level of the traditional market, emerging countries as well as producing and non producing countries.

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