First-ever woman coffee exporter in Papua New Guinea secures premium price from major international buyer

20 November 2015
ITC News

Coffee farmer Marey Yogiyo has been selling coffee to buyers in her native Papua New Guinea for 16 years. Earlier this year, she became the first ever woman in the coffee sector to receive an export licence – and promptly saw the price she received rise 63% above the local rate.

Olam International, one of the world’s leading agribusiness companies, bought 60 bags of coffee from her company for US$ 18,000.

‘It’s real. I am now an exporter,’ said the 56-year-old mother of five, who lives in the Eastern Highlands Province, the centre of the country’s coffee production industry.

Yogiyo’s export success appears set to continue: Olam is considering an even bigger purchase in 2015.

Before she could sell abroad, however, Yogiyo needed a permit, not to mention clients. In 2014, she got both. In July, her company, Yogiyo Coffee Ltd, became the first women-owned coffee company in the country to receive a government licence to export. The first bags of Bauka Blue were shipped to the United States shortly after. ‘After ten years of consistently working on perfecting the quality and looking for markets, the first order from Olam re- energized Bauka Women Coffee to see it through the next ten years’, she said.

With ITC to international markets Yogiyo made the initial contact with her new buyers at a buyer mentor group organized by ITC and the International Women Coffee Alliance (IWCA) on the margins of the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual conference in Seattle in April 2014. The training provided participants with knowledge and skills to meet the demands of international buyers, enabling them to position their coffee to be more competitive in international markets and fetch higher prices. Following her return, ITC liaised with the Papua New Guinea Investment Promotion Agency to facilitate the issuance of her export licence.

Olam International is one of the world’s largest food buyers, with annual sales of US$ 15 billion and operations in 65 countries. On its website for its industrial buyers, Olam emphasizes Yogiyo’s story and vision for creating a distinctive product. ‘She founded the group to encourage women to make coffee a way of life so that they can support themselves and their families,’ the site says.Empowered women powering trade Yogiyo, who herself has a mid-size farm with 20 acres of coffee, will also buy coffee from nine other farmers as of the coffee year 2015. She hopes to build an export business supporting many of the 645 coffee growing households in the area. ‘This is a great avenue to support women in coffee groups, maximizing their net return on their coffee,’ she said.

Papua New Guinea’s coffee, while making up only 1% of global production, is known in specialty coffee circles for a unique aura and for the brightness and complexity of its flavours. The Aiyura Valley, where Bauka Women Coffee is situated, first saw coffee grown in the 1940s; its plantations and smallholder gardens are known for the varied berry and citrus flavours of the coffee they produce.

This article is a part of ITC's SME Competitiveness Outlook 2015.