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THE FUTURE OF YEMEN, IN A COFFEE BEAN

The “I Primi” project: how a simple coffee bean can lift the economy of a country.

By the Lavazza Team 2–3 minutes

Growing coffee can help a country's economy grow. 

In Yemen, coffee production can develop into an equitable distribution of resources among the communities that grow it.  

It can offer new economic opportunities and encourage professional development within the supply chain. 

It can foster the inclusion of younger generations and women.

THE STORY SO FAR

Yemen is one of the oldest coffee-producing countries in the world, and its Arabica blend is one of the best.  

Thanks to its strategic position, Yemen has always been an important crossroads of the caravan routes. With Mocha as its main port city, it has played a crucial role in trade and production for foreign markets. Most of the coffee for the European and Middle Eastern markets came from Mocha’s chief export in the 15th century.  

However, Yemen is a country plagued by poor agricultural practices, a lack of knowledge and infrastructure, gender inequality, and market failures, among many other troubles. 

Since 2015, a wearisome conflict has been raging in Yemen, provoking one of the most severe famines in the last 100 years. According to the United Nations, this famine is “the worst man-made humanitarian disaster."

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A COFFEE BEAN

If coffee has been fundamental to Yemen’s past, what about its future? Is there a chance that a simple coffee bean can help the country after years of destruction and humanitarian crises?

Apparently, yes. 

Nowadays, thousands of Yemeni families depend on coffee cultivation, despite decades of neglect and stagnation in the agricultural sector. 

Today, overcoming poverty through growing coffee is a complex – but not impossible – challenge.

With the firm belief that even the most challenging situations can be made better, the Lavazza Foundation has launched the project “I Primi” – or “The First” – in partnership with the Qima Foundation41, a non-profit organization working to restore the prosperity of Yemen through sustainable economic development, since 2014. 

Lavazza and the Qima Foundation work closely with a small group of coffee growers to achieve a positive and lasting change by supporting and improving their livelihoods.

The action areas of the project are the governorates of Dhamar, Ibb, and Raymah

The beneficiaries are 1,500 small coffee producers, 60% of whom are women.

I PRIMI: THE PROJECT OF THE FIRST

The project name, “I Primi” or “the First,” refers to four significant coffee-related activities implemented in Yemen for the very first time: 

• The first national survey of coffee growers was carried out. It showed that coffee accounts for 50% of household income, with high average profit margins.  

• The largest nursery ever has been designed. It has a production capacity of 150,000 plants. Here, genetically verified plants can grow, thanks to coffee DNA detection technology. 

• The first water basin with a capacity of 900 m3 /h20 has been built. It will allow 214 growers to benefit from this precious resource.  

• The first processing center is under construction. It has a production capacity of 150 metric tons of coffee cherries with an area of 2,500 m2. Here, 1,500 growers will benefit from the center, and 50% of the staff at the facility will be women.

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