Some 1,200 coffee stakeholders from around the world attended the International Coffee Organization’s (ICO) World Coffee Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 6-8, 2016. The theme of the fourth-annual conference was “Nurturing Coffee Culture and Diversity.”

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Attendees included NGOs, Ethiopian dignitaries, and representatives from the private sector from coffee-consuming and coffee-producing countries, or both. Ethiopian growers, co-op unions, roasters, and companies exhibited at the event. Panel discussions covered a variety of themes and topics, including consumption and specialty trends, climate change, the role of innovation and policy in increasing productivity, promoting gender equality, and volatility.

In addition to the conference, IDH, Nestle, JDE, and USAID met to review the progress made thus far in rolling out the coffee traceability system from washing and hulling stations through the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange (ECX) to exporters. In February alone, Ethiopian coffee suppliers traded over 1,000 MT of traceable coffee worth over USD$2 million via ECX. By the end of the year, processing stations are expected to bring one million bags of traceable coffee to the world market.

ACDI/VOCA Managing Director of Specialty Crops TJ Ryan and Agribusiness Systems International (ASI) President Ana Bilik attended the conference. TJ reports that he was “pleasantly surprised by how much gender was mentioned in conference sessions.” For him, the conference’s most memorable moment was the Women in Coffee in Ethiopia event at which Agricultural Growth Program-Agribusiness and Market Development (AGP-AMDe) Chief of Party Vanessa Adams was praised by Sara Yirga of Ya Coffee Roasters as “the backbone of Women in Coffee in Ethiopia.” U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Patricia M. Haslach added that Vanessa was “instrumental in setting up traceable coffee with the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange.”

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