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Friday, 30 August, 2002, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
East African coffee growers fight back
coffee beans
Falling coffee prices have hit producers hard
Coffee growers in East Africa have started to fight back against the crippling price drops which have hit their industry by using techniques learned from the worldwide success of Champagne.


We want to help farmers... to take advantage of the market

Fred Kawuma
EAFCA
They plan to create an 'appellation' - a marque which guarantees coffees come from the best regions, with the best production methods and promise the best taste.

It echoes the French system of protecting high-value wines by banning imitators.

Fred Kawuma, executive director of the Eastern Africa Fine Coffee Association (EAFCA) told the BBC's World Business Report they want to increase production of quality coffees to capture more of the quality market.

"We want to help farmers who have the privilege of living in the regions where this coffee is produced to take advantage of the market," Mr Kawuma said.

Cheap cup

The value of coffee has plummeted because of oversupply and many growers earn less than half what they did in the late 1990s.

EAFCA members are Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi.

Coffee prices reached their lowest level for almost 40 years at the start of 2002.

Kenya produces some of the world's top grade Arabica coffee beans but quality and output have fallen because the poor prices have persuaded farmers to turn to other crops.

"If the quality of the coffee produced in the regions improves, then farmers will get better prices," Mr Kawuma said.

The EAFCA hopes it can improve coffee growing practices which have deteriorated as earnings have fallen.

Appellation coffees

Mr Kawuma said Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda would pilot the appellation programme.

Ethiopia, which considers itself to be the birth place of coffee drinking, already has a number of regional coffee types.

He said the EAFCA would also support the creation of special auctions to market the coffee.

The appellation programme is expected to be implemented by 2005.

The EAFCA was launched in September last year and is based in Kampala, Uganda.

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 ON THIS STORY
Fred Kawuma, Eastern Africa Fine Coffee Association
"If the quality of the coffee produced in the regions improves, then farmers will get better prices."
See also:

03 Jul 02 | Business
22 Apr 02 | Business
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