The 4th annual African Coffee Sustainability Forum took place in Bujumbura, Burundi, on 12 February 2014. Under the theme “Sustainable Coffee Farming as a Business for African Coffee Farmers: Learnings, challenges & joint efforts for solutions”, the Forum brought together 150 stakeholders to address the key factors influencing the adoption of sustainability practices by African coffee farmers. Organised by the 4C Association, the African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA), the Sustainable Coffee Programme powered by IDH and Café Africa, the Forum is now a fixture on the coffee sector's calendar. Delegates at the forum considered the potential of considerably increasing African coffee production. To do so, they determined that productivity in coffee farming needs to be increased thus becoming a more viable business case for coffee farming households. All participants stressed the need of a broad sector collaboration including governments, coffee producers, private sector, and NGOs, putting the farming family livelihood at the centre of all efforts.
As participants represented trade, industry, research and civil society organisations from major coffee-producing countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia, a unique feature of the forum was the interactive working group session. In these parallel groups, action plans addressing the business practices of coffee farmers, climate change and gender were developed and later presented to the forum’s audience. A key message was that the proven benefits of providing capacity building to farmers on good agricultural practices can be even more rewarding if they follow a gender-sensitive approach.