The 50th International Coffee Organization (ICO) General Meeting held in Belo Horizonte from 9 – 13 September has focused on improving support for producers, with the aim of raising coffee prices. “We have made important progress during this four-day-meeting, regarding support to small producers from emerging countries,” said the ICO’s Executive Director, Robério Silva in a statement. “In addition, International Coffee Organization (ICO) considers favorably the policies recently adopted by Brazilian Government regarding crop flow regulation,” he said, referring to the Brazilian Government’s decision to withdraw 13 million bags of coffee from the market. Participants approved the Belo Horizonte’s Declaration, which contains the main agreed subjects discussed during the four-day-meeting. The declaration reiterates the ICO’s commitment to providing statistical information, and objective and comprehensive economic data on the global coffee market, in order to enable decision-making based on accurate and updated data. More than 150 ICO delegates, 58 observers, and 79 invited guests from 70 countries attended the meeting. According to the Operation Director Maurício Galindo (from Colombia) the fall in prices particularly concerns the sector. “We are almost reaching the price plateau in 2009, which was of US$1.17 a pound of coffee. One aggravating factor of the international market value besides the fall in price is the inevitable increase of the production costs.” Despite this concern, Galindo said he expected demand to continue growing at around 2 per cent annually “We are noticing a significant increase in demand, mainly due to rugged form, seen in the soluble coffee, which is most consumed in emerging countries. It leads us to believe that the coffee demand for the years to come will be even more significant. Another piece of data that leads us to this conclusion is the US economic recovery, given that country is the largest coffee consumer.” One of the ICO’s main challenges for the coming years is to obtain financing from multilateral organizations, according to Robério Silva. “The World Bank, Inter-American Bank, and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization may perform an important role, regarding support to small producers and cooperatives opening the doors for obtainment of these resources,” he said.