Monday 22 April 2024
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1st World Coffee Producers Forum kicks off today in Medellin, Colombia

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BOGOTA – Colombia will be this week in the spotlight of the global coffee industry, starting by the producers, who will be the protagonists.

Few times, since the end of the International Coffee Agreement between coffee-producing and consuming countries in 1989, when the market was liberalized, so many representatives of all links of the value chain had met in a single place to discuss and propose measures that contribute to sustainability of the whole industry in the long term, which includes better income for producers, the weakest link.

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Given the great response to the call for the World Coffee Producers Forum, to take place in Medellin from July 10 to 12, and that registrations are closed, the event will be live-streamed on the internet in four languages.

And it is not surprise, because the lineup of speakers is of international stature. In addition to former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the keynote speaker of the Forum at the opening ceremony will be the highly recognized expert and world leader in sustainable development Jeffrey Sachs.

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ICO’s Executive Director, José Sette; Colombia’s President, Juan Manuel Santos, and the CEO of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), Roberto Velez, will also take part in the opening ceremony, along with representatives of African, Asian and Latin American coffee producers.

Challenges that are common to all coffee-producing countries and to sustainability of the industry as a whole are producers’ income, rural development, socio-economic indicators, climate change adaptation, productivity, price volatility, generational integration, and labor, among others.

Other figures of international stature invited to the forum as moderators or speakers are Ric Rhinehart, Executive Director and CEO of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA); Fred Kawuma, Secretary General of the Inter-African Coffee Organization (IACO); Silas Brasileiro, Executive President of Brazil’s National Coffee Council (NCC), and Annette Pensel, Executive Director of the Global Coffee Platform, among others, in addition to representatives of multinational companies such as Starbucks (Chris von Zastrow), Nestlé (Marcelo Burity) and illycaffè (Andrea Illy).

Attendees will be able to taste coffees from all the producing countries participating in the forum, and will also have the chance to make a two-day trip to the central Colombian coffee region, which will contribute to get to know the origin and unique attributes of Colombian coffee.

84th Extraordinary National Congress of Coffee Growers

But if the Forum itself is not to be missed, the prelude, the 84th Extraordinary National Coffee Growers Congress, which will take place on Monday 10 on the occasion of the 90 years of the FNC, is to be also a memorable event.

The Congress is attended by delegates of the 15 Departmental Coffee Growers Committees and the agenda of this new meeting of the highest authority of the FNC will include the issue of reforms of the FNC’s statutes, which have followed a wide process of consultation, analysis and debate since 2013.

This Congress, to be attended, as usual, by senior government officials (including President Santos), will be the framework of events that pay tribute to the 90 years of tradition, history, and leadership of the FNC, an institution that, in addition to working for the well-being of coffee farmers and their families, has substantially contributed to the country’s economic and social development.

The launch of the commemorative book “FNC 1927-2017: 90 years, living coffee and sowing the future” and of a special stamp, awards to key figures in the sector, and a tribute to coffee-farming heroes will be part of the agenda, which highlights contributions of an institution that has given much to Colombia.

Many challenges of Colombian coffee farming, such as climate change (with increasingly extreme weather events), volatility of prices, labor, generational integration and increase of productivity and profitability of producers, are common to other producing countries.

So the Extraordinary National Congress of Coffee Growers is a timely prelude to the first World Coffee Producers Forum, which will precisely address sustainability challenges of the whole value chain, including a more equitable distribution of income, with a focus on co-responsibility of all links.

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