The Forgotten Wealth: Mohammed Al-Basha at TEDxSanaa 2012

Uploaded by TEDxTalks on 17.01.2013

Mohammed AlBasha-The forgotten Wealth
who doesn't need this cup every morning?
This wonderful flavor is essential..
to recognize and maintain our composure every morning
And for this flavor alone..
The world consumes 500 billion cup of coffee every year
You could only imagine!
Coffee is a commodity traded in the world's stock markets
and while a ton of wheat is worth 200-250 USD...
the one cup of coffee...
could, in the high-class European Cafes, be worth 40 Euros
and one kilogram of coffee..
may be bought for up to 300 Euros
The reason is simply because coffee has become a luxury item
Just like perfumes and watches
Coffee has become the second traded commodity after oil
and the second consumed drink after water
the demand for coffee has risen significantly since the 1990s due to..
the diffusion of internet cafes...
and also the laptops
the chemical substances in a strawberry, for instance, don't exceed..
70 chemical substances
while the coffee seeds contain over 700 chemical substances activated by roasting
hence, the coffee tasters- known as the "Coffers"-..
would say, upon trying a cup, "I taste mango..
"and now strawberry.."
"and now berry..."
This is true..because with 700 checmical substances..
it is very likely to taste all sorts of fruits in the coffee..
this is scientifically proven
who knows the shepherd and sheep tale?
It is said that coffee was discovered by a goat
I only have the time to say "Thank You, goat!"
"Arabica" and "Robusta" are two coffee species
Just like two apples; green and red
if mixed, they will produce a new flavor..
the flavor of both species has been mixed using..
an Italian method called 'Espresso"
An espresso is a mixture of two coffee species namely Arabica and Robusta
Arabica coffee is named after the Arab countries, proudly Yemen
while the robusta is cultivated in lower areas than Yemen's highlands
basically at 700 m above the sea level
the espresso is the base of any beverage, either hot or cold, across the world
"Uncle Sam" people, because they are smart..
have turned the espresso into an industry called 'Specialty Coffee"
Just like the pizza, burger and ice cream industries..
From Makha, Mocha coffee is originated
"mocha" has become the reference for any coffee in the world..
that belongs to the A category
However, unfortunately..
Many companies around the world have started to use the name randomly
regardless of the quality
This, regrettably, harms us and harms the Yemeni coffee reputation
I don't want you people to cry but you may after TEDx
Law experts say that we can regain the name "Mocha"
using legal means..
there are many international organizations, that I'm aware of at least, that are willing..
to fund such action..
all the government has to do is take the initiative
that's it
to wake up
why is the Yemeni coffee so special?
why is it famous?
The Yemeni coffee has accidently been grown in the mountainous areas
our ancestors used to grow it in terraces
the terrain, climate and fertile soil of Yemen all coincided perfectly..
for coffee cultivation
a mountain is like a pyramid, when you grow in terraces..
one side of the mountain is exposed to the sunshine..
coffee needs half the day of sunshine only
so in the morning there will be sunshine, and shade for the noon and vice versa
therefore, the Yemeni coffee is of absolute quality
Yemeni coffee is an organic product
free of artificial fertilizers..
giving it an added advantage and value
Nowadays, you can buy the finest coffee in the global markets..
for 50,000 USD per ton
the second exceptional characteristic of the Yemeni coffee is..
that in Yemen we use the husks..
as a well-known popular drink..
which enables us to export the green beans..
As we consume the husks, while the world consumes the beans..
and they use the husks as a fertilizer, fuel..etc.
In Ethiopia, for example, they consume about 60% of their coffee product domestically
This is our reality in Yemen, unfortunately the picture says it all
the state of coffee in Yemen
the reasons are; the shift to Qat cultivation..
by the way, this is not Qat..This is coffee plant
diminshing corssgenerational expertise... (brain drain)
due to internal and external migration..
the qat problem, as I said..
poor government awareness..
with successive governments' indifference toward the matter
in spite of the international recognition..
many organizations allocate millions to merely support the Yemeni coffee sector
nevertheless, by the end of each year, the return the funds back to their governments
additionally, the dominance of marketing brokers..
Two years ago, there was a conference in this hotel...
about coffee..
I accidently ran into one of the farmers..
and asked; "Why is the production declining every year?"
he answered; "What can we do? we work hard all year long..
and it all goes to Tahish AlHawban (metaphor for loan sharks)
I asked; "who is Tahish AlHawban?"
he is the broker or grocer who takes the coffee, in exchange for food stuffs
and by the end of the year, sells the coffee at his own prices
I told you we are going to cry after TEDx
This chart is quite expressive..
it doesn't require much explanation..
Brazil produces 2,600,000 tonnes of coffee, while Yemen produces 12,000 tonnes
per annum..
I was arguing with a Minister of Agriculture a while ago..
and he said; "Who told you we only produce 12,000?"
I asked; How many then? He said; " 18,000"!
I said; " well, thank you very much"
unfortunately, out of the 12,000..
only 3000-4000 is exportable...
as a result of the wrong husking practices that fracture the beans..
rendering them only locally consumable
the second calamity..
the qat activity is ten folds the coffee's
according to estimates of the Ministry of Planning and the Statistics center
Although I reckon it is much higher
yet, they say it is ten folds the coffee production
and when you complain about it, they say Yemen is poor and suffering a water shortage
How come we never hear this excuse regarding Qat?
Coffee is a very effective solution for the issue of exports...
especially that 75% of Yemen's population lives in the rural areas
so there should be rural development to retain them in their lands
as for unemployment, there are 100,000 households working in the coffee sector
assuming there is an average of 5 members in each.. it's 500,000
if we upgrade the number to 500,000 households, how would this work out for unemployment?
this will also prevent internal migration..
as people currently abandon their villages and come to Sanaa
for job opportunities..
and that's why you see poor workers lining up in intersections every morning
here, we have three ministries; fish wealth, tourism and agriculture
Look at the volume of production in each
very modest figures..
one or two companies may make 350 million turnover
we are talking here about a ministry with staff and everything..
and every Tuesday, the Minister boasts before cameras proudly
for 300 million!
I don't know what to say!
Hence, my message to the world;
Help us reassume the mocha brand
because we believe the world respects the ownership rights more than ever
my message to the government;
it is about time we have a specialized ministry for the coffee industry in Yemen
the least it could do would be like the fish or tourism ministries
Let's see who is in favor of this proposal by a show of hands
Thanks, keep your hands up..
a message to the people;
we need a fresh revolution in which we ask "Qat" to leave!
a revolution chanting,
"The people demand a pro-coffee revolution"
Thank you very much