The coffee trees are tropical shrubs of the genus Coffea of the family Rubiaceae. The species Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora (or robusta coffee) are those used in the beverage preparation.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity worldwide, behind oil. It is estimated that 125 million people living in the coffee sector, including 25 million small producers. 400 billion cups of coffee are drunk each year, about 12 000 cups per second !

For several years the annual world production exceeds 100 million bags (120 million in 2002, 102 million in 2003) which corresponds to 6 to 7 million tonnes, while in 1825 it produced only 100 000 tonnes. Over 80 million bags were exported each year (88 million in 2002, 84 million in 2003).

The largest producer by far is Brazil, particularly the State of São Paulo which is the first port of the coffee in the world: the port of Santos, followed by Vietnam (the largest producer of robusta) and Colombia.

In Madagascar, coffee is one of the main resources of the country and ranks third in agricultural exports in foreign currency inflow from vanilla and crustaceans. Both Arabica and Robusta species are present but robusta is by far the most product.

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