Ethiopia is the world's fifth largest producer of coffee. As an industry coffee can be hugely lucrative; it provides employment for nearly 15 million people and makes up some 28% of the country's yearly exports. Yet all too often farmers are excluded from the value chain, with profits being shared by distributors and middlemen, while farmers sell their coffee beans for a much lower price than they could be fetching.
Farmers sell their coffee to traders or collectors, who will then process the beans for export, selling them on to private businesses who are licensed by the government to export coffee. To access the best markets, coffee beans must be harvested to a certain standard.
Farm Africa helps to increase both the quality and the quantity of coffee grown, and helps farmers to gain Rainforest Alliance certification, proving to buyers that the coffee is from well-protected forests and has not been grown with chemical fertilisers. Through agricultural training, the use of new technologies and the opening up of new markets through certification, farmers are able to earn considerably more from their coffee crops. Farm Africa is also working to set up a forest coffee union, so that member farmers will be able to export their own coffee themselves, rather than going through traders.
Developing forest coffee value chains will directly benefit 10,000 coffee producers in Ethiopia. We are focusing particularly on the empowerment of women, who have traditionally been excluded from certain spaces within the value chain. 30% of the beneficiaries of this project will be women.
We are working with the Rainforest Alliance on this project to help farmers gain fair trade certification. In addition, the Oromia Forest and Wildlife Enterprise (OFWE), an autonomous public enterprise established by the regional government of Oromia, will be trialling more initiatives of this type, in collaboration with the Ethiopian Agricultural Bureau and Federal Ministry. This project is funded by the Barr Foundation.