On the invitation of the Inter-African Coffee Organization (IACO), Dr. James Vibbi and Didan
Sankoh, Executive Chairman and Director respectively of the Produce Monitoring Board (PMB)
participated at the 63rd Annual Meetings of IACO and 1st African Coffee Week, from February 6th
to 10th, 2024, at the Millennium Hall in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme “Transforming
the African Coffee Sector through Value Addition”. The event was chaired by Hon. Dr. Girma
Amente, Minister of Agriculture of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

IACO is an inter-governmental organisation comprising the following 25 African coffee-producing
countries: Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Central African Republic, Democratic
Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya,
Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia,
and Zimbabwe.

IACO’s vision is a modernised, competitive, and sustainable coffee industry which focuses on
quality and productivity that is beneficial to all players in the sector.

The First African Coffee Week comprised the second phase of the IACO Annual meetings (the
High-Level Policy Forum, the 2nd edition of the African Youth Barista Championship (AYBC), the
11th African Coffee Symposium, and the second phase of the 63rd IACO Annual General Assembly)
and the 20th African Fine Coffees Conference and Exhibition.

The event attracted hundreds of coffee stakeholders from diverse areas and groups including
IACO staff, members of the Africa Fine Coffees Association, government stakeholders from IACO
member states including Sierra Leone, NGOs like Solidaridad, private sector players and

The team from the Produce Monitoring Board participated fully in this event and had bilateral
meetings with coffee stakeholders including IACO, the International Coffee Organisation (ICO),
the Coffee Research Institute, the author of the highly rated and recently launched book titled
“Is There Poverty in Your Cup of Coffee?”, Dr. Frederick S.M. Kawuma. This is a captivating book
that eloquently captures insightful information about the entire global coffee industry. The book
takes us on a journey to describe who the producers and consumers are, the attributes of the
beverage, innovations, cultures, and emerging issues the coffee industry faces. Dr. Kawuma is
the African Coffee Ambassador. He is the former Secretary General of IACO, founder and first
Executive Director of the African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) and former Executive Director
of Uganda Coffee Federation. He is currently the Chairman of Café Africa, Uganda.

The conference also delved into the new elephant in the room – the new European Union
Deforestation Regulation (EUDR). The EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) was formally
adopted and came into effect on 29 June 2023. Companies will have 18 months (until 30
December 2024) to be compliant, except for micro- and small undertakings (as defined in
Article 3 of Directive 2013/34/EU) for which the Regulation will apply from 30 June 2025.

It was agreed that member states’ competent authorities should conduct checks within their
territory following a risk-based approach, particularly considering the relevant commodities,
the complexity and length of supply chains, the country of production, or the companies’ history
of non-compliance. Produce boards like PMB MUST check due diligence statements before
releasing relevant products for circulation on the European market or for export. The EU will
eventually establish an information system and electronic interface for data transmission to
facilitate declarations. Aiming at limiting global deforestation and forest degradation
provoked by EU consumption and production, the EUDR imposes strict rules regarding due
diligence to all companies wishing to place affected products on the European market or to
export them. The proposal received 1.2 million responses during the European Commission’s
public consultation across Europe, showing an obvious concern by European citizens regarding
global deforestation and how the products we consume contribute to this. The regulation
concerns seven commodities and their derived products. These are cattle, cocoa, coffee, oil
palm, soya, wood, and rubber. Essentially, a company will only be authorized to place these
products on the European market or export them except they are:

 1. deforestation-free,
2. produced in accordance with relevant local legislation, and
3. covered by a due diligence statement.

The scope is therefore very wide since a huge number of products are derived or
manufactured from these commodities, including leather, meat, chocolate, coffee, soybeans,
palm nuts, palm oil, tyres, furniture, cosmetics, printed books, pulp, and paper.

 Traceability is the challenge of this regulation, requiring precise visibility over the entire
supply chain, transparency on procurement and suppliers, proactive risk monitoring,
publication of CSR (Certificate Signing Request) performance reports, and the verification of

Traceability in the value chain has thus become essential and central to many texts of the
European Green Deal, not only to meet the demands of consumers – who want to know the
origin, manufacturing process and impact of products – but also for companies. Businesses
will eventually have to comply and importantly, learn to use these requirements as a lever to
identify and mitigate risks and reduce their impacts, increase their efficiency, and achieve
sustainable development goals. As part of the Green Deal package, a digital product passport can
consolidate all the necessary information and make it available to all stakeholders, helping
them identify the most responsible and sustainable products and credibly demonstrate the
company’s commitment to sustainability.

As a participating team from PMB, we identified the following as key action points that the
PMB team will have to work towards achieving with the support of partners:

1. Conduct profiling and assessment of coffee roasters in Sierra Leone to understand how
they carry out their roasting activities – scope, quality, type of equipment they use,
successes and challenges.
2. Facilitate the establishment of a coffee roasting association for all roasters.
3. Organize a national coffee conference.
4. Develop an Agro-Export Strategy
5. Speak with the Bank of Sierra Leone to consider having a policy that makes commercial
banks take perennial crop farms (with gio locations) like cocoa, coffee, cashew and oil
palm as collateral for loans to cooperatives and large-scale farmers.
6. Organize training in coffee cupping and identify cuppers who will be providing cupping
services to coffee roasters or brewers.
7. Identify ways to increase domestic consumption of our coffee.
8. Develop an Agro-Processing Strategy for Tree Crops

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