USAID/Burma Mission Director Teresa McGhie addressed a crowd of more than 100 specialty coffee industry actors at the July 2019 #CoffeeNext event in Yangon, organized by USAID’s Value Chains for Rural Development project (implemented by Winrock International) in collaboration with the Myanmar Coffee Association (MCA). McGhie cited the incredible, private sector-led advancement in the coffee industry over the past four years, which has enabled smallholder farmers and others to increase incomes and export increasing volumes of specialty coffee to high-paying customers abroad.
“By promoting Myanmar coffee to local businesses like these, and by helping smallholders increase their exports of specialty coffee 12-fold in the last three years, the Myanmar Coffee Association now serves as an example that the people of Myanmar can work together across geographic boundaries and ethnic groups to pursue mutual economic interests that increase incomes, foster peaceful cooperation and make quality Myanmar products the topic of international discussions,” said McGhie.
McGhie recognized the remarkable achievements MCA has made in advancing both commercial-grade and specialty coffee production and processing. MCA now manages cupping events, quality training and other technical assistance to coffee farmers and roasters, and hosts promotional business-to-business events that help coffee roasters sell more coffee for Myanmar consumers and for export. Thanks to the partnership with USAID, MCA and $1 million in loans from Myanmar’s private sector, more than 8,000 farmers have adopted new technologies that have enabled them to produce the kind of coffee that wins awards at international cupping competitions.
“Women have made remarkable contributions to Myanmar’s coffee sector, both as farmers and processors, helping to establish Myanmar as a source of top-quality specialty coffee,” said McGhie. “I have had the pleasure of meeting some of these women, such as Su SuAung and the members of the Amayar Women’s Producers Group. Last year these women leaders formed the Myanmar Women’s Coffee Alliance, which is part of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance. Soe Thinzar Aung, the leader of Shwe Taung Thu, a southern Shan producer group that comprises 300 producers from 1B villages, has represented the group at international trade events this year in Boston, Berlin and Bangkok.”