MOMBASA, Kenya, Feb 16- The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has joined Eastern African Fine Coffees Association (EAFCA) bringing the number of countries in the coffee body to 11.
This announcement was made in the just concluded EAFCA conference in Mombasa which brought together over 700 delegates from all parts of the world to tackle diverse issues in the sector such as coffee production, transport, roasting and marketing.
“This is a great move towards accepting more countries into EAFCA and a milestone for this body. DRC is a giant in terms of available arable land (700,000 square kilometres of prime unutilised land) and considering that consumption is expected to outstrip production this would be a major boost to plug the gap,” said EAFCA Kenya Chapter Chairman Etienne Delbar.
DRC now joins Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa in the association which plans to introduce market interventions aimed at boosting local consumption for countries in the region and shield the industry from adverse price fluctuations in the world market.
Mr Delbar said delegates from Cameroon, Gabon and Togo also attended the conference and expressed hope that they would join the fast-growing body, which is now one of the most influential in the region.
The ten EAFCA member countries consumed an estimated 172,000 metric tonnes of coffee in the 2008/09 crop year which represents about a third of the 611,000 metric tonnes they produced.
The biggest coffee consumer in the region remains Ethiopia whose population takes up an estimated 135,000 metric tonnes or about 90 percent of the total consumption in the EAFCA region.
EAFCA Executive Director Philip Getao said the conference was the most successful since the ten-year old body kicked off the coffee stakeholders’ conferences seven years ago.
It also provided a platform where the participants shared ideas and established important networks, which Mr Getao said would be of great benefit to the sector.
Speakers, including researchers, brought new insights in areas such as the effects of climate change on coffee, fertilization and financing. Other issues such as logistics and marketing which have been key shortcomings in the sector were covered extensively and solutions debated.