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How coffee exports help protect the forest

Since 2012, Farm Africa and SOS Sahel Ethiopia have supported a REDD+ mechanism in the Bale Eco-region in the Oromia region of Ethiopia that lowers greenhouse gas emissions by reducing deforestation, while also boosting the livelihoods of local communities living in poverty.  

Mr Abdurahman Kule, a chairman of Gutity participatory forest management cooperative (PFMC), has been leading the management of more than 1,932 hectares of forest land, coordinating the 620 members from Angetu kebele.  

The PFMC, set up with the support of Farm Africa and its partners as part of the REDD+ project in Bale, Ethiopia, ensures members benefit from the forest while also protecting its natural resources. 

Abdurahman has become a licensed coffee exporter. Farm Africa connected Abdurahman with the international coffee market; in 2020, he was able to sell 3,660 kg of quality coffee, earning 1.5 million Birr.  

During this year’s coffee harvesting season, he is preparing himself to export a second round of coffee, hiring 20 young people to help him harvest coffee cherries. 

In 2020, Abdurahman sold 3,660 kg of quality coffee, earning 1.5 million Birr.

Promoting a sense of ownership over the natural environment, the REDD+ project encourages the community to preserve the existing forests and to plant trees. Through discussions and training, the PFMC enables the community to abide by the bylaws set to manage their natural resources. 

“The normal practice in our community used to be clearing the forests to grow maize and plant coffee seedlings,” Abdurahman said.  

“Our main target was harvesting more yields by getting farming land. We used to believe we needed to expand our agriculture to earn more.” 

However, the REDD+ project made him realise that he could earn a livelihood without having to destroy the natural habitat.  

What they taught us was, with clearing trees, the forested land will go barren, exposing the area for severe drought. Instead, we were told to maximise our production by maintaining the natural forest as it is. The knowledge received was cascaded down to the represented community.

According to Abdurahman, the advocacy of forest protection has been well received among the community.  

“There is a big difference nowadays, our people stopped cutting branches off trees. You can’t find a newly deforested land, only the old ones. The awareness of our people has become highly enhanced.” 

He believes that his PFMC has achieved great success avoiding illegal actions against the forests within Angetu kebele. “Regarding the forests in our kebele, Angetu, I am sure no one cuts down a single tree without getting permission.” 

This story is one of five personal stories featured in our new report Making forests sustainable: lessons learnt from the Bale Eco-region REDD+ Phase II project, Ethiopia. PDF file (4MB)

Farm Africa implemented the REDD+ project in the Bale Eco-region with partner SOS Sahel Ethiopia with funding from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Ethiopia.

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