The International Forum for the Sustainability of Saudi Coffee highlighted the Kingdom’s potentials to be a global hub for the trade and manufacture of coffee.
The forum, which concluded on Sunday, was organized by the Ministry of Culture in the southern city of Jazan with the participation of local and international experts to mark International Coffee Day.
A set of recommendations were issued at the end of the event, including the importance of Saudi Arabia joining the International Coffee Organization to promote the exchange of experiences, enhance the presence of the local product internationally, and cooperate in the field of research, innovation and development of national capabilities.
The forum stressed the need to help farmers improve production and boost the sector’s sustainability, and to support the innovation and entrepreneurship industry that would contribute to addressing challenges related to strengthening the Saudi coffee value chain.
The participants recommended organizing an annual international forum for Saudi coffee to discuss the achievements, challenges and aspirations, in partnership with the local community, and to study the launch of cultural indicators in cooperation with stakeholders, with the aim to monitor support for the coffee industry.
The second day of the forum concluded with two dialogue sessions that focused on the participation of government and research agencies in the field of coffee industry, in addition to examining the field from a medical angle, and its benefits on the health of the individual and society.
At the beginning of the first session, Dr. Al-Habib Khemira, researcher at the Center for Environmental Research and Studies at Jazan University, reviewed the main Saudi coffee varieties and their cultivation through different stages.
Eng. Bandar Al-Fifi, Director of the National Coffee Component at FAO, stated that coffee was the most consumed beverage around the world. He noted that the average daily demand for coffee consumption was increasing annually, which requires raising the production to meet the high demand.
He also emphasized the importance of teaching the next generation about farming to secure growth for the industry.
Radi Al-Faridi, deputy director general of the National Research and Development Center for Sustainable Agriculture, discussed the importance of cooperation of all authorities in agricultural integration.
“The definition of agricultural sustainability encompasses all environmental, social and economic aspects,” Al- Faridi said.
“Currently coffee is considered the second-largest traded commodity in the world after oil, with the global coffee market value reaching $102 billion in 2020. It is expected that the market will continue to grow to reach a rate of 4.28 percent during the period 2022-2026,” he said.
Moreover, he remarked that as the expansion in the coffee market increases so will the pressure on coffee supply chains.
The last session of the forum concluded with a working paper by researcher Ghadeer Fallata, from the Saudi Food and Drug Authority.
She pointed that around 43 percent of Saudi adults consume caffeine at a rate of less than 300 mg per day, highlighting an increasing growth of commercial activities related to coffee shops.
“There has been steady growth of commercial activities related to cafes, as the Kingdom ranked 11th globally in 2019 in importing tea products, 13th in importing coffee products, and 14th in importing chocolate,” she added.