MEDIA RELEASE: Building international links and overcoming barriers in the EAC coffee sector
Organised jointly with the African Fine Coffee Conference & Exhibition and financed by the European Union through MARKUP the week featured interactive discussions, workshops and networking events designed to educate and inform growers, exporters and others in East Africa’s coffee industry and facilitate an environment of positive change and growth for the future.
Key highlights from the week included the launch of the EAC Quality for Trade Platform, a coffee cupping and tasting event with a mini live online auction event which saw buyers in Europe bidding on coffee at the forum in real time, and workshops around packaging and branding and financing.
The training clinics - run by the International Trade Centre - focused on some of the key barriers to successful exporting and competitiveness in the primarily European market. Specific clinics were held on Packaging and Branding, Buyer Negotiations and Expectations and Accessing Finance. The tips and tricks nature of the workshops gave real life examples to participants and gave practical solutions to the barriers currently holding the industry back.
According to Kevin Musa, MARKUP Programme Manager at the International Trade Centre “The EAC MARKUP Coffee Business Forum has introduced SME’s to international buyers leading to promising prospects for all. Coffee business and institutional networks have been created and strengthened. The invaluable partnership between EAC Secretariat, European Union, GIZ and ITC has provided a unique platform for policy-makers, Trade Support Institutions (TISIs) and enterprises to identify challenges and solutions to boost coffee trade and exports in the East African Community under this initiative.”
Panel discussions brought together leaders from the international coffee arena, EAC and country trade policy makers and EU delegates to examine how to overcome the challenges of low coffee prices for farmers and what steps need to be taken to secure a higher proportion of the price of coffee for the farmer, against the backdrop of stiff global competition. .
“The EU is a prime market for East African coffee, and we are pleased to be facilitating business to business linkages in order to increase market opportunities for African countries in Europe and other parts of the world. MARKUP is working to harmonise standards across the EAC, raise coffee quality and empower farmers with the knowledge and tools to be competitive. More employment and higher income is the ultimate goal – a sector which is high performing and bringing East African coffee to the world.” said Ambassador Mr Manfredo Fanti, Head of Delegation to Tanzania and EAC, European Union, one of the panellists at the forum.
Dr Kirsten Focken, Cluster Coordinator for EAC-GIZ, one of the panellists, was optimistic about the future of coffee in the EAC. “East Africa has some of the best coffee in the world. Overcoming quality issues, creating a strong united brand which tells the story of Africa, and learning from other markets around the world is crucial to the sector now. There is a lot of interest in East African coffee, so enabling producers to scale up and export without putting barriers in their way will help grow the sector further and tap into a rich existing and waiting market.”
The EAC Quality Platform will serve as a one-stop-shop allowing users to discover relevant quality requirements for priority sectors in the EU, obtain guidance on quality-related topics and share best practices, connect with relevant institutions or individuals who can offer help along the way and gain insight from those who have already experienced success.
The EAC Quality Platform will consist of four primary modules, which are being developed in stages.
The Quality Compass module allows users to discover specific quality-related requirements, including mandatory legal requirements, quality standards and market preferences for identified MARKUP priority sectors and markets. The tool will offer user-friendly insights into both what is required, practical implications for the exporter as well as some guidance on how to comply with specific quality requirements. Currently mapped in Year 1: green coffee, tea, avocado, cocoa and cinnamon. The pilot version of the Quality Compass was launched today at the EAC Coffee Business Forum.
The Quality Connect module, to be launched next in 2020, will serve to connect a regional network of Quality Champions developed under the MARKUP program. Users will be able to view profiles and make connections with other registered users who may be able to offer guidance or services (givers) or are in need of guidance or services (takers). Users will be able to connect with relevant institutions or individuals who can offer help on their quality journey.
The Quality Insights module will serve as a repository for training materials, practical guides and all quality-related technical materials developed under the project, allowing for the sharing of best practices and relevant materials across countries. Users will be able to browse materials or search for materials based on topic, sector or product.
The Quality Success module will enable the sharing of successes and impact stories, allowing users to gain insights from those who have already experienced success.
The Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP)-https://www.eacmarkup.org/ - is an initiative of the EAC Secretariat, funded by the EU and Germany Federal Government (BMZ). It is implemented by various agencies, including the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), UNIDO, Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) and other partners. MARKUP aims to increase exports of selected value chains, promote regional integration and access to the European market by addressing specific challenges that SMEs, Trade and Investment Support Institutions (TISIs) and policy-makers face. This will allow EAC agribusinesses to benefit from greater business opportunities in both East African and European markets and to meet the growing demand for EAC exports. In this way, MARKUP will help create sustainable market linkages between Europe and the EAC, and contribute to job creation and inclusive development in the region.
MARKUP targets coffee in all five beneficiary countries- Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Other priority sectors are spices, avocadoes and other horticultural products and tea. The areas of focus include:
- The identification and elimination of barriers to trade;
- Improving competitiveness;
- Strengthening of value addition
- Ensuring compliance with international standards
- Supporting access to finance
- Market exposure for SMEs