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Angolan Robusta coffee is reportedly famous for its neutral and pleasant cup (flavour) and is particularly popular in southern Europe (Spain and Portugal). However, quality is no longer consistent and many traders confirm that Angolan coffees are often characterised by an 'old' taste, yellow colour and a low moisture content. Yet the market potential for Angolan Robusta coffee has been confirmed to be good and if production can be improved and yields increased, a greater quantity could be exported.
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To address some of the current constraints and assist in improving the coffee sub-sector, CABI is coordinating a pilot project funded by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) and the Angola Government through the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) UK. The three-year project, which began in March 2006, aims to provide 4,000 previously displaced families in the province of Kwanza Sul with two-to-five hectare plots from the subdivision of abandoned coffee estates. The acquisition of title deeds by each farmer collaborating in the project is also being facilitated, as well as other forms of social support including the construction of houses, schools and clinics.
In contrast to colonial times, smallholders now account for almost 90 per cent of coffee production in Angola. Farmers employ family labour and achieve relatively good yields: but the lack of processing facilities means that farmers are restricted to selling their coffee as dried cherries. To improve production, over three million coffee seedlings have been raised, mainly on farmers' fields, although a supplementary nursery has been established at a research station of the Instituto Nacional de Café (INCA). Over 2000 farmers, extensionists and scientists have been trained in various aspects of coffee production, processing and marketing.
In collaboration with a local bank, an effective micro-credit system has been set up and another partner, the Cooperative League of the United States of America (CLUSA), has helped farmers form business organisations and trained them in effective management. So far, over 30 business entities have been legally constituted. The creation of farmer cooperatives and associations will also be encouraged to enable value-added processing. In addition, the establishment of producer, trader and exporter interest groups will be promoted to encourage the active involvement of key players in determining relevant policies for the coffee industry.