ITC launches processing handbook to boost West African coffee
The new handbook for coffee farmers and processors in Ghana seeks to boost the region’s coffee sector by adding value to the crop locally.
Today, Ghana – and the wider West African region – is seeking to diversify its agricultural production and exports with robusta coffee. Businesses are also exploring how to process coffee in-country to serve the local market. This requires knowledge and capacity building, and investment in infrastructure.
To strengthen coffee production in Ghana and West Africa at large, the International Trade Centre’s Alliances for Action initiative has launched a Handbook on Coffee Processing for Farmers and Agro-Processors.
Robusta’s history in West Africa
Robusta coffee originated in West Africa. Today, Brazil and Vietnam produce 80% of robusta coffee, and West Africa contributes just 6%. That’s down from 51% in the 1960s and 1970s.
Ghana’s farms are best known for cocoa – the country is the world’s second-largest producer. However, it also produces coffee – despite ranking just 42nd globally today.
Ghanaian coffee actors are putting their previously abandoned coffee production back on the global map by growing fine robusta and investing in quality post-harvest processing. Ghanaians don’t drink much coffee now, so the businesses are also looking at ways to increase demand for locally grown and roasted coffee.
Back to basics: An accessible handbook to add value to coffee
The handbook is a manual for harvesting, post-harvest management, and more importantly, the processing of coffee. It’s aimed at farmers as well as small- and medium-scale processing enterprises.
For growers, processors, and other players in the coffee value chain, the manual will act as a point of reference. Much of its content and data draws from ITC’s Coffee Guide, 4th Edition. The language and information are simple and reader-friendly for businesses just getting started.
The handbook was launched on 13 July at the Food Research Institute in Accra, Ghana. The handbook was published under the ACP Business-Friendly programme, funded by the EU and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). The handbook was created in collaboration with non-profit the Robusta Coffee Agency of Africa and Madagascar, known by its French acronym ACRAM.
‘The purpose of this handbook is to look at how we can best add value to coffee,’ said Charles Tortoe, director of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Food Research Institute (CSIR-FRI). ‘Post-harvesting processes are a form of value-addition – a crucial sector that we need to bring on board, beyond the development of production.’
His organization also collaborated on the handbook, along with the Ghana Cocoa Board and the Coffee Federation of Ghana.
He said the handbook’s goal is to ensure that Ghana’s coffee meets all international standards, helping the country tap into the global multi-billion-dollar coffee industry.
Larry Attipoe, the National Coordinator for ITC-Alliances for Action, said there is a substantial international market for specialty and premium quality robusta coffee. The manual will be a guide for all Ghanaian industry players to achieve the quality they need to compete on the international market, he said.
‘We are involved in this because we see coffee as an important value chain for our country, with the opportunity to develop coffee communities,’ he said. ‘We seek to encourage Ghanaian coffee actors to produce quality coffee for international markets, in line with ITC’s mandate to promote competitiveness.’
About the programme
The ACP Business-Friendly Programme is funded by the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and jointly implemented by ITC’s Alliances for Action, the World Bank and UNIDO. It seeks to improve the ability of agribusiness firms in ACP countries to compete, grow and prosper in domestic, regional and international markets. Through the Alliances for Action approach, it promotes inclusive and sustainable agricultural value chains that value all stakeholders from farm to shelf. In Ghana, the programme focuses on revamping the coffee sector by providing support to coffee value chain actors, farmer cooperatives, and support institutions through capacity-building training on good agricultural practices, harvesting techniques, coffee farm establishment, value addition enhancement and market.
Alliances for Action is an ITC initiative that seeks to transform food systems through producer partnerships that cultivate ethical, climate- smart, sustainable agricultural value chains.