Monday, June 20, 2011

“Practical Sustainability”

The forum was organized by 4C Association in collaboration with the Eastern Africa Fine Coffees Association on the backdrop of the Annual Africa Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition.
The objectives of the forum were three fold, vis-à-vis, sharing the practical challenges faced and successes scored in implementation of sustainability principles in members’ environment, sharing the practical local knowledge and otherwise used as innovations to mitigate the challenges and documenting best practices and innovations shared to be disseminated through the 4C training modules, tools and advanced services. A total of 122 participants were in attendance

1.1        Welcome and Opening Session

  • The opening ceremony was graced by eminent coffee personalities. The EAFCA Chairman Leslie Omari welcomed the participants to the forum and invited them to feel at home in Arusha; Mr José Sette the Acting Executive Director of ICO, thanked 4C and EAFCA for holding the Forum and retaliated his organizations support to all efforts of coffee sustainability.
  • Mr. Diego Pizano, the President of 4C Association He noted the special relationship of 4C and Eastern Africa coffee people.  At the 4C Association we are working had to address the issue of demand side and the recent Nestle commitment to taking up increasing volumes of 4C verified coffee was a milestone in this effort. He retaliated that 4C Association was a members association and works for members and decisions are made by members this has made it unique and sustainable as an organization. He concluded his remarks by noting that the goal of the Forum was for participants to share practical experiences on the successes and challenges of sustainable coffee production, processing and trading.
  • Mr. Adolf Kumburu, the Director General Tanzania Coffee Board, underscored the importance of sustainability to smallholder farmers in Tanzania and thanked 4C to holding the forum in Arusha at a very appropriate time when the industry was focusing of production and productivity. After his brief remarks, he officially declared the forum open.
  • The opening ceremony was closed with two presentations. The first was made by the Executive Director of 4C Association Ms. Melanie Rutten-Suelz and she shared on the topic – raising the bar in mainstream coffee. She illustrated the 4C association plans of scaling-up services in cooperation with other sustainability schemes such as Rainforest Alliance, Utz Certified and FLO. She concluded by noting that 4C Association planned to intensify and explore partnerships on local, regional and international level to support a more sustainable coffee production worldwide.
  • The last presentation for the opening was on Sustainable Coffee Production and 4C Verification in Tanzania and was made by Ina Wengrzyk-Country Representative Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung, Tanzania and Webster Miyanda-Project Manager, Coffee Farmers Alliance Tanzania. The presentation illustrated what they wish to achieve, the results that far and the challenges going forward they wish to address that included establishing level playing field,  improving working and living conditions, protection of natural resources and addressing climate change and biodiversity.


Plenary Sessions

The plenary sessions were structured to articulate presenters’ practical experiences – successes and challenges on the topic they discussed drawing from both their working environment and any other areas both regionally and internationally. The presenters specifically shared how they had sustained and scaled up their successes including institutions/partners they had and were still working with. They also illustrated practical innovations, best practices, and local knowledge they had used to address challenges they were encountering in their daily sustainability work.
The following were the specific areas discussed during the plenary sessions:
a)    Soil Fertility and Coffee Production in East Africa;
b)    Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation;
c)     Gender Mainstreaming in Coffee Value Chain
d)    Access to Finance by Smallholder Farmers
Plenary presentations by eminent subject matter professionals shared the most recent practical experiences of the subject matter, in East Africa and other countries, what worked out in practice (learning's), they gave challenges, shared the partners they are working with in the field and gave practical recommendations and proposals on how further work on the topics in East Africa could be sustained and scaled up. The idea was to illustrate to the participants what had been happening and how they could take advantage of the best practices without reinventing the wheel. The plenary presentations also prepared a good ground for working groups’ discussions.


The objectives set for the Forum were within reason, achieved. The main output were the recommendations, proposals, innovations, local knowledge best practices and partners that will be compiled and documented to be availed to farmers and other 4C members through the 4C virtual library as training materials, tools and associated resources. This will help producers and members perform better in the sustainable coffee production, processing and trade and will also help the the 4C association plans of scaling-up services.

Access to Finance by Smallholder Farmers

topic received presentation from Mr. George Ooko of the Coffee Development Fund, who shared the fund’s successes and challenges to lending to smallholder coffee farmers in Kenya; Mr. Nate Schaffran from Root Capital shared his experiences so far and their vision for the future while Ms. Noemi Perez of FAST presented on financing a sustainable Africa.

Gender Mainstreaming in Coffee Value Chain

topic was discussed by Mr. David Muwonge of NUCAFE who shared their experiences on a Gender coffee project in Uganda while Ms. Jane Magombe of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance shared with the participants the Africa chapters’ experiences so far and their vision for the future.

Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation

This topic was discussed by Dr. Joseph Kimemia from the Coffee research Foundation of Kenya who illustrated the practical effects of climate change on coffee production while Ms. Kerstin Linne of GIZ shared the experiences on climate change adaptation measures in coffee production in Kenya.

Soil Fertility and Coffee Production in East Africa

  this topic was presented by two professionals. Mr. Godsteven Maro from Tanzania Coffee Research Institute [TaCRI] presented on practical experiences for soil fertility management in Tanzania while Mr. Tesfu Kebede from the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research [EIAR] presented practical examples from Ethiopia on addressing soil infertility.