The coffee beans from which we prepare our coffee in the coming years may come from a different grower than before. Many producers, especially the small ones, will most likely not be able to meet the requirements of the EU regulation against excessive cutting down of forests.
The EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), which entered into force at the end of June this year, requires that products linked to deforestation cannot enter the EU market. In agriculture, this means that everyone who wants to deliver to the EU will have to prove that their production meets this condition by 2025 at the latest.
In other words, from January of next year, the supplier will be required to document, down to the level of the individual grower, that the imported coffee does not come from harvesting on land where there was a forest at the end of 2020 at the latest.
Since a significant portion of the world’s coffee production comes from smallholder farmers, such technical requirements may be beyond their financial means. Production could thus shift to larger producers who operate more outside of Africa, for example in Brazil, the world’s number one coffee producer.
One of the countries that may be hit hard by EU regulation is Ethiopia, whose coffee production comes largely from smaller and small-scale growers, of which there are approximately five million in this East African country.
“For the future, I don’t see the possibility of buying any significant amount of coffee in Ethiopia,” Dallmayr company manager Johannes Dengler told Reuters. The company, whose coffee machines have become popular in the Czech Republic, buys roughly one percent of the world’s coffee production.
In addition to coffee, the EUDR regulation also significantly affects the production of wood, cocoa, palm oil or, for example, the import of meat. While globally agricultural production represents roughly four percent of total economic output, in less developed countries, such as those in Africa, this share can jump up to 25 percent. At the same time, due to the lower intensity given by the weaker development, the agricultural sector can employ the majority of the population of the given country.
“We need to work to agree on a common goal. We need to act collectively because no single player has a blueprint for tackling deforestation in supply chains. If the EUDR doesn’t work for African farmers, it won’t work for anyone,” wrote Abraham Baffoe of the non-profit company Proforest in a commentary for African Business.