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Zimbabwe Coffee Industry - I could cry!

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  • Zimbabwe Coffee Industry - I could cry!

    19 July 2010: EU Chief Laments Zimbabwes Dying Coffee Industry

    A top European official has described Zimbabwe’s now dismal coffee production as a “sheer embarrassment” compared to its heyday.

    The head of an EU delegation to the troubled country, Ambassador Xavier Marchal, made the statements to a coffee stakeholder conference in the town of Mutare during the last days of his mission.

    At the peak of its production in 1990, Zimbabwe output 15,000 tons of fine Arabica beans, compared with just 300 tons in 2010.

    Coffee was first introduced to Zimbabwe by white settlers in the 1890s. It almost died out in the 1920s due to disease, but made a resurgence in the late 1950s. The following decade saw the establishment of strict classification and grading standards to ensure the production of export quality crops.

    Ambassador Marchal blamed the dramatic drop in production over the past 20 years mainly on the misguided policies carried out as part of the President Mugabe’s controversial land reforms launched in 2002.

    “The European Commission was here in December 2005 to assess the coffee sector. Our findings at the time were simple, and dramatic: 1) coffee production had declined from 10 000 tonnes in 2002 to less than 2 500 tonnes in 2005, mainly due to a land reform that had gone off track, resulting in precious coffee trees being replaced by maize on commercial farms,” he said.

    Of particular concern are the effects being seen among small holder farmers, mainly from the Honde Valley region, who currently account for about 1% of total production.

    Efforts by the European Commission, including emergency relief after Hurricane Aileen in 2002 and the establishment of state of the art ‘Mutare Mill’, were implemented as part of the ‘Coffee Initiative’ aimed at helping small scale producers.

    Ambassador Marchal described the flagging production levels as particularly disappointing for those communal farmers “who want to improve their livelihoods and income and become part of the prestigious world fraternity of growers of what is called the ‘black gold’ in partnership with commercial coffee farmers.”

    He added that production by small producers needed to be encouraged for “social and political reasons” and that communal and commercial farmers “need necessarily to develop and cherish their symbiotic relation, a question of survival for all.”

    “In the end, the overall community of actual and potential small and commercial coffee growers and stakeholders must clearly indicate that there is room in this country for a vibrant coffee industry for the benefit of all and of Zimbabwe,” Ambassador Marchal said.

    “I hope that a positive way forward can be agreed at this conference. I do want to believe that this is a new beginning, and not the end of a lost cause.”

  • #2
    Re: Zimbabwe Coffee Industry - I could cry!


    Its very disappointing to hear of such a demise but such is the nature of the industry. If countries dont band together and form some level of consistancy internally then it all seems to fall apart...or at least not come together the way it could.

    Take Aussie coffee for example...

    There are now a lot of coffee farmers in Australia but we really only market our coffee as "Aussie Coffee" with the exception of a few and not the particular region it comes from. Our coffees are all different and should be treated as such. The other factor in Australian coffee is farmers would prefer to attempt to get there own name out in the world rather than the name of Australian coffee as a whole. This comes down to an "every man for himself" approach locally as apposed to a "band of brothers" approach taken by many other countries that has worked so successfully.

    I know that i would certainly purchase coffee from Zimbabwe if it were available to me. Not only to support the local industry in Zimbabwe but for the curiosity factor...... Andy?


    • #3
      Re: Zimbabwe Coffee Industry - I could cry!

      Hi all

      What a shame. Here is some more on it.
      and from you can even buy Robert Mugabe mugs for your coffee :-) Amazing.



      • #4
        Re: Zimbabwe Coffee Industry - I could cry!

        Sad state of affairs all round in Zimbabwe. Hope they can keep enough of the trees and expertise to rebuild the industry. Slightly related note it is nice to see quality coffee coming out of Rwanda and some other failed/ing or rebuilding states in the last few years so I suppose Zimbabwe can come back too.