July 27, 2023

Mozambique has signed the International Coffee Agreement (ICA) 2022 as it joined the International Coffee Organization (ICO) at a ceremony held in the London headquarters in mid-June.

The ICO already has 26 African members. Mozambique’s admission to the coffee club is important because the country offers an example of socially sustainable farming where the coffee crop is cultivated and picked by local farmers. The agreement was signed by Mozambique’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Celso Correia.

The government of the southern African state joined for the first time in its history with the claim that it produces some of the world’s most environmental and socially sustainable coffee. Also present at the signing were representatives from the country’s national coffee association Amocafé.

Correia said: “This is a historic day for Mozambique as we join the International Coffee Organization. Our coffee sector is growing fast and is an important part of our plans for the future and the change we wish to bring to our country. It is also at the heart of our plans for sustainability. Coffee is being grown in areas that include some of the most biodiverse in the world and we are committed to ensuring that the crop’s growth supports the protection of the natural environment.”

Mozambique coffee Minister of Agriculture and Rural-Development Celso Correia
Correia: “Our coffee sector is growing fast and is an important part of our plans for the future and the change we wish to bring to our country.” © Lucy Young,

Rainforest revitalisation

Mozambican coffee is known for its commitment to habitat restoration and biodiversity preservation. For example, in Gorongosa National Park – which was ravaged by civil war and lost almost all its wildlife – the establishment of new coffee plantations, which can thrive in the shade of indigenous trees, has enabled the revitalization of the local rainforest.

The introduction of green beans originating in Mozambique has provided a long-term incentive for local communities to protect a rainforest as the crop is grown under the canopy of native trees. Previously the forest was disappearing at a rate of over 100 hectares a year. Additionally, 100% of the profits from green bean cultivation are returned to the local community.

Similarly, in the Chimanimani mountains, organic coffee is produced as part of an agroforestry system, which includes reforestation of degraded and deforested areas of the reserve to safeguard the soil, flora and fauna.

These practices aim to preserve the country’s rich biodiversity while actively involving local communities. By joining the ICO, Mozambique hopes to contribute to the development of global policies on coffee sustainability and participate in the exchange of knowledge with other coffee-producing nations.

Mozambique coffee Cafe Chimanimani
Café Chimanimani is a full-bodied and velvety textured coffee. © Lucy Young,

The coffee trade also relies on partnerships with rural communities, enabling local farmers to benefit from training and access to resources and markets. The government says that the country’s coffee industry “is dedicated to long-term sustainability through initiatives such as organic farming, agroforestry and resource diversification within protected areas”.

Six diverse coffees

Mozambique’s oldest coffee is Café de Ibo which has been grown on the Ibo and Quirimba islands in the Indian Ocean since it was first introduced by Arab traders in the 11th century. To this day is is largely grown in the traditional manner. Ibo is a rare naturally-low caffeine coffee.

The six Mozambique coffee brands set to be exported internationally are:

Nossa Gorongosa, grown in the National Park by Gorongosa Mountain

Café Chimanimani, a full-bodied and velvety textured coffee

Café Niassa, which prioritises organic practices and works closely with local farmers

Café Vumba, focused on woman-focused organic farming practices

Café de Manica, cultivated in the Mussapa mountains

Café de Ibo, grown on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

Correia commented: “Mozambique wants people to experience how every sip of its coffee tells a story – one of heritage, passion and the richness of its land. By choosing our coffee, consumers will not only enjoy a unique taste experience, but also support local farmers and their sustainable practices, and help preserve the biodiversity of the country’s landscapes.”

ICO coffee stats
African exports have fared better than most regions during the period but Asia & Oceania led the way.

ICO’s executive director, Vanúsia Nogueira, said: “It is important for us to emphasise that our engagement with Mozambique, as with all our members, is not solely defined by the challenges facing the global coffee community, but first and foremost by the opportunities that lie ahead. I am convinced that Mozambique’s contribution, as a full partner of the ICO and the new ICA, will be crucial in shaping the coffee industry for a bright, sustainable future.”

Data from the ICO for the final quarter of 2022 (October to December) show that African exports were down on the same period the year before by 1.4%, better than the 15% decline in Mexico and Central America, and an even bigger decline in South America. The only region in growth was Asia and Oceania at 2%.

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