The competitiveness of African coffees
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CTA. 1994. The competitiveness of African coffees. Spore 50. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/49343
African coffees are steadily losing their competitive edge vis-\E0-vis their Latin American and South-east Asian rivals. Two specialists, Benoit Daviron of the Centre de coop\E9ration internationale en recherche agronomique pour le d\E9veloppement...
African coffees are steadily losing their competitive edge vis-\E0-vis their Latin American and South-east Asian rivals. Two specialists, Benoit Daviron of the Centre de coop\E9ration internationale en recherche agronomique pour le d\E9veloppement (CIRAD) and Wilfred Fousse from the French Ministry of Cooperation, have been investigating the reasons, and in their report The competitiveness of African coffees, they put forward some original suggestions to help reverse the trend and put African coffee back on course. According to the report, Africa's lack of competitiveness has meant its share in the world Robustas market has been considerably eroded. During the past 20 years this has dropped from 78% to 44%, to the advantage of the Latin American and South-east Asian growers. The cause is historical: African growers are no longer establishing new plantings on fertile virgin soil. Since 40% of African plantations date from before independence and have not been renewed in many instances, land is exhausted. Asia, on the other hand, as a newcomer to coffee growing, has mainly new plantations and heavy yields. Latin America has been through both these phases and is now investing in the modernization of its coffee-growing by using improved varieties and advanced growing techniques, including pruning and the use of fertilizer. The report considers that Latin America's re-investment of income from coffee into improved production has been supported and encouraged by a strong political will. This has been influenced by well-established professional bodies such as FEDECAFE in Colombia, which are strong enough to resist both pressure from the State and the middlemen, who so often wish to get control of the coffee income for themselves. In contrast many African governments have used coffee income for paying for the creation of parastatal infrastructures to manage coffee exports, while at the same time permitting a virtual monopoly by the middlemen. This has left growers at a disadvantage and without incentive. As a result, the coffee harvests of the boom years of the seventies brought very little benefit, either from increased income or from state involvement. On the other hand, in Latin America, coffee income has been used to increase the purchasing price from the producer, or to improve productivity and the report details the results of this policy. Its authors conclude with the proposal that African producers be helped to set up organizations which could act as intermediaries between the State and the buyers, with a view to dual management of production and exports. La comp\E8titivit\E9 des caf\E9s africains by Wilfred Fousse and Benoit Daviron, Minist\E8re de la Coop\E9ration, 20 rue Monsieur, 75007 Paris, FRANCE