By Fred Ojambo
Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) — Japanese buyers are keen to resume imports of Ethiopian coffee and will help farmers to improve the quality of their beans and to comply with required standards, a Japanese food-trading company said.
A team of Japanese coffee importers will visit Ethiopia next week to meet government officials, coffee farmers and exporters to help them improve quality, Tomohiro Ishiwaki, of Ishimitu Co., said today in an interview in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa.
Japan halted deliveries of coffee from Ethiopia in May 2008 after finding “abnormally high” pesticide residues in a shipment of the beans. Japanese officials demanded that Ethiopia find the source of the chemical and prevent future contamination.
Ethiopia is Africa’s biggest coffee producer. Japan had previously purchased about 20 percent of the country’s exports, making it the nation’s third-largest market after Germany and Saudi Arabia, Ethiopian Trade Minister Girma Birru said in an interview in the capital, Addis Ababa, in February last year. Ethiopia exported $525.2 million of coffee in the fiscal year ending July 7, 2008, according to the Trade Ministry.
Japanese coffee imports from Ethiopia are now “very small” compared with the “big volumes” of a few years ago, Ishiwaki said. Importers need to be given guarantees that the beans supplied will be of top quality and without contamination of any sort, he said.
–Editors: Athol Bolleurs, Karl Maier.
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