Experts say coffee farmers’ profits dangerously low

The 6th Consultative Forum on Coffee Sector Finance brought together experts from the private and public sectors to discuss challenges facing the coffee sector with a special focus on the profitability of coffee farming. Key points raised during the session included an understanding that the challenges faced by the coffee sector vary by region and country and that the industry must act now to address the effects of climate change and the social conditions of coffee growers. Addressing the topic of international prices and the volatility of the market, panelists debated the need for an alternative mechanism for the pricing of coffee and the necessity to increase the availability of innovative financial instruments for farmers of all sizes. The International Coffee Organization (ICO) presented a new research concept note titled 'Assessing the Economic Sustainability of Coffee Growing”, a review of existing data on costs of production and profitability at the farm level in four countries: Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. ICO Economists discovered that price volatility and increasing costs of production at the farm level have caused farmers to operate at a loss in certain coffee years between 2006/07 and 2015/16. Presenting the results of the new study, Mr Robério Oliveira Silva, Executive Director of the ICO, said that more data and research are needed to better understand the economic viability of farms and to help preserve the livelihoods of millions of farmers across the globe.

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