Colombia’s coffee farmers should
vote for continuity in the country’s output and export policies
when they choose a news federation chief this month, the
group’s board of directors said on Thursday.
Gabriel Silva, the powerful head of the National Federation
of Coffee Growers, has resigned to become Colombia’s defense
“His successor must provide a guarantee of continuity in
coffee policy,” the board said in a statement.
The next federation leader will be chosen on Aug. 27 by
representatives of Colombia’s coffee growing provinces and by
During his seven years in the job, Silva backed the
formation of the international Juan Valdez coffee shop chain
and a crop renovation program that, along with bad weather, has
temporarily cut output and contributed to high prices.
The next federation chief will face the challenge of
finishing the renovation plan, increasing production and
expanding the Juan Valdez franchise.
Silva is credited with modernizing the federation’s
management and has promoted the idea of Colombia and other
producer countries buying a stake in Starbucks Corp.
Next year, Colombia will hold a presidential election. The
federation carries political weight in northern rural areas
where the coffee trade supports more than 500,000 families.
Among those mentioned as possible successors to Silva is
Nestor Osorio, chief of the London-based International Coffee
Organization (ICO). Known as Colombia’s “Coffee Diplomat”,
Osorio is the first Colombian to lead the group.
He has encouraged the country to enter new coffee markets
and is respected across the country’s political spectrum, which
could help him emerge as a consensus candidate.
Another candidate is former finance minister Juan Camilo
Restrepo. Nominated by the growers of Antioquia province,
Restrepo broke from the government several years ago by
opposing President Alvaro Uribe’s effort at changing the law to
allow him to run for reelection.
Uribe got the constitutional amendment, was reelected in
2006 and may try to run again next year. The rift with the
popular Uribe, who also hails from Antioquia, could hurt
Restrepo’s chances. (Reuters)