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Let's Talk Coffee®: Africa 2011

Posted by Wynne McAuley on October 5, 2011 at 2:43 PM

The second annual Let’s Talk Coffee® Africa was held in Moshi, Tanzania on September 5 and 6, 2011.  The conference brought together actors in the coffee supply chain including, producers, cooperative leaders, cuppers and Christy Thorns from Allegro Coffee to discuss how the changing market is impacting the industry in East Africa.

LTC1-1024x629The event opened with Adolph Kumburu, Executive Director of the Tanzanian Coffee Board, commenting on how Let’s Talk Coffee® strengthens both the coffee industry throughout East Africa, bringing transparency to commercial relationships.  The theme of transparency was highlighted in the next presentation, given by Sara Morrocchi, Sustainable Harvest Africa Program Director.  Her presentation concentrated on the Relationship Coffee Model, now and throughout 2012.  It included an interesting and innovative slide that broke down the price of a standard bag of coffee by showing the price that each actor in the supply chain receives.

In keeping with this year’s theme, Thriving in a Changing Market, we welcomed Katie Gilmer, Sustainable Harvest's® Relationship Coffee Manager from Portland, Oregon, to present current market conditions, what affects these conditions, and how producer groups can protect themselves in a volatile market. She introduced open contracts as a way to help producer groups protect themselves against this volatility. The impact of this presentation was profound, and many participants were eager to learn how to manage open contracts.

The latter part of the first day was spent in a Price Risk Management Workshop headed by Sustainable Harvest® staff.  This practical element provided hands on-experience to participants in the areas of determining how world events affect the coffee market, the details of an open-contract and finally placing market orders based on these open-contracts.  This innovative training was appreciated by all participants and comments such as; “this gives us the confidence to fix our contracts” and “this is something that all groups will benefit from” were heard at the closing coffee break of day one.

The last panel of the event was focused on Sustainable Harvest’s® Relationship Information Tracking System (RITS) . The panel began with Carly Griggs, Sustainable Harvest Program Manager who introduced RITS Producer, a cloud based tracking system that was developed to provide transparency and traceability in the supply chain through, starting at the washing station.  Technology tools were the next focus, and by using the iPad, Chambo Augustine was able to show how Sustainable Harvest’s® RITS Ed, a library of agronomy best practices, food security and quality control videos, produced in partnership with Exprima Media, can help reach farmers living in rural areas.  The final speaker of the day was Max Noel, the accountant from a local co-operative who has adopted the RITS technology in his daily work.  Max concentrated on showing participants how RITS has improved the efficiency and ease of his work with local washing stations including building transparency and traceability into the current accounting systems.  After the panel presentations were over we were asked time and time again “when can we have access to RITS?” and “can we have access to the iPad training videos?”

This post was written by Laura Paslawski, Africa Program Manager 

Topics: Africa, Events, iPad, Let's Talk Coffee, LTC Regional, Moshi, RITS, Tanzania, Technology