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Global Coffee producers gather in Colombia to talk industry challenges

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MEDELLIN, Colombia – The first ever World Coffee Producers Forum wrapped up in one of the world’s top coffee producing countries, Colombia. Experts from over forty countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, addressed sustainability challenges to this globally important crop.

Climate change, economic sustainability and rural development are three big challenges for the world’s coffee producers. And these issues were addressed head-on this week at the inaugural World Coffee Producers Forum taking place in Medellin, Colombia.

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The event even attracted former U.S. President Bill Clinton, a long-time advocate for sustainable economic development in developing countries.

Nearly 1,000 people in all are taking part – the first of its kind event, bringing together government representatives, coffee companies, producers and traders from more than 40 coffee producing countries.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos stressed the need to bridge the gap between the amount of money a cup of coffee is sold for in a city like New York, and how much trickles down to the coffee producer.

According to the International Coffee Organization about 125 million people make their living from coffee production, mostly small farmers in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Coffee varieties are extremely sensitive to even slight temperature changes which affect the yield and flavor of the crop. And rising temperatures, drought and intensive rainfall are already taking a toll on coffee crops.

The Head of the International Coffee Organization said he is concerned about global coffee supplies over the next five years because of climate change and low prices.

The need to address challenges is more pressing than ever. Consumption is up – and growing still good news for the industry if it can keep up with demand– for perhaps double current production levels — over the next 30 to 40 years.

Michelle Begue