More than 1,000 international coffee industry traders, producers, buyers and experts met Wednesday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for a three-day discussion on policy and trade development across the African coffee value chain.
Speaking on the occasion, Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome Wirtu said the meeting provided a forum for the stakeholders to discuss key issues impacting production as well as for policy makers to build key trading relationships.
He said Ethiopia was chosen as a suitable host as it is a nation where "20 million people derive their livelihoods from the coffee sector directly or indirectly".
Coffee, he said, accounts for 26 percent of export earning for the country – the fifth largest producer after Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia.
Touching on the downside of the coffee market, the president said that "despite an increase in volume [of coffee exported last year], amount earned declined due to price volatility."
He said to tackle that his country has devised a mechanism where new markets such as China, Russia, Algeria and Tunisia would be explored and tapped into.
Paul O. Aduda, marketing manager of Kenya-based Think Coffee Mills told Anadolu Agency that big retailers such as Starbucks continue to rip the lion’s share of proceeds from the coffee value chain and that it should be changed for the better.
"What is most amazing is the absence of one of the largest profiteers Starbucks from such an important event. They should have come and engaged with African producers," Aduda said.
Some 67 exhibitors participated in the event, dubbed the top third event in the world by the African Fine Coffee Association's Board Chairman Abdullah Bagersh.
During the coming days, participants will, among other activities, explore global prices expectations and access to finance.