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ICO unveils pact, welcoming private sector to key discussions on coffee
Monday, 13 June, 2022, 14 : 00 PM [IST]
London
In a new spirit of collaboration, the International Coffee Organization (ICO) has announced its landmark International Coffee Agreement 2022, formally welcoming to the table for the first time in 60 years the world’s biggest coffee retailers, roasters and manufacturers, together with coffee farmers.

Going forward, the private sector and civil society will participate as Affiliate Members in key discussions and decisions on the sustainable future of global coffee affairs with 75 coffee producing and importing nations, ICO Member Governments. The goal of the Agreement is to find new ways to improve conditions in an over US$300 billion a year industry that provides a livelihood for millions of people from farmers to baristas across the world. Indeed, coffee farmers have suffered much in the wake of a 2019 coffee pricing crisis, extreme weather including droughts, flooding, frosts and blight, resulting in crop losses and prompting many to quit a business that had been in their family for generations. Smallholders, who only have less than one or two hectares of land each to produce coffee, for example, are the most vulnerable with incomes of just US$500 a year.

The Chair of the International Coffee Council, Ambassador Iván Romero-Martínez of Honduras, stressed that with the approval of the new Agreement the Council marked a new era for the ICO, its members, the global coffee sector and for millions of coffee farmers whose work, every day, allow us to taste a wonderful coffee. He further pointed out that ICO members showed the world that the coffee sector is strong and united as ICO reaffirms itself as the centre of the “coffee diplomacy”, committed to making the coffee value chain more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient.

“We are entering a new era of cooperation with the private sector thanks to the landmark International Coffee Agreement 2022,” says Vanusia Nogueira, who joined in May as ICO’s first female Executive Director. “The arrival of the world’s biggest high-street names and manufacturers as well as smallholders means that the whole coffee value chain can now address the biggest challenges facing the global sector in a way that is fair for all,” she adds.

The new International Coffee Agreement goes beyond the traditional divide between exporting and importing members as all members are committed to working together to address the increasing challenges of the coffee industry. The private sector and Government entities will coordinate strategies to address more efficiently those challenges. This will benefit producers across 50 countries as coffee growers and their associations will be able to raise their concerns directly with retailers and manufacturers. Moreover, the new Agreement gives a clear and firm mandate to the ICO Secretariat to assist Members in putting together coffee sector development projects and mobilising resources in areas such as pest and disease control, climate change adaptation among other mitigating strategies. This comes at a time when expanding demand for coffee will contribute to maintaining a balance between supply and demand, supporting fair market prices.
 
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