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  • Issues related to training

    To be effective, training should be integrated so that people in each stage of the coffee cycle appreciate the impact of their actions on the others. Excellent marketing cannot change an inferior product into a good one, while incompetent processing or marketing can result in unsatisfactory prices even for the best product. The link between technical and commercial operations is often missing, especially in countries with a tradition of public-sector dominance of the post-harvest cycle.

    It is vital for many producing countries' long-term prospects that processing and quality standards are not only maintained but are improved. Not only do better products attract more buyers and realize higher prices, but new elements such as food safety concerns demand more attention to quality. In this respect the interests of coffee producers, importers, traders and roasters are the same. The availability of adequate training opportunities in producing countries is therefore important to all sectors of the coffee industry.

    Like research, training should be a long-term and ongoing activity, but not all producing countries can fund it. Consequently training is often an ad hoc activity, initiated whenever an opportunity or the funds appear, for example, as part of a development project. But, when such a project ends then, mostly, the training component ends as well. When, as often happens, the people who have been trained then change their employment, non-availability of funds is once again an obstacle to the training of their replacements.

    In-company training, like formal courses, should lead to tangible benefits for successful participants if they are to be retained by the industry. Such benefits could include formal diplomas or certificates, which in turn might lead to a better job and higher pay. Coffee is a relatively difficult subject for training, because the evaluation of quality depends largely on sensory skills and human appreciation (i.e. taste). The absence of formal courses and recognition sometimes makes it difficult to convince people that in-company training should be taken seriously. It can also mean that a person's qualifications cannot be formalized, thereby making it harder for him or her to be recognized, appreciated and adequately paid.