Ethiopia has launched a comprehensive Coffee Development Strategy that aims to quadruple its annual coffee revenue and increase farmer incomes more than five-fold by 2033.
Coffee already represents a vital part of Ethiopia’s economy, supporting the livelihoods of more than a quarter of the population and generating up to 30% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. In the past eleven months of the current fiscal year alone, the nation earned a historic 2.2 billion USD from coffee export.
Despite its growing earnings, however, the nation has not yet been able to effectively utilize the significant potential its coffee sector has, according to several studies.
Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority (ECTA) last week launched a 15-year Coffee Development Strategy, which, officials said, would be key in maximizing the country’s coffee production capacity.
The strategy, developed in collaboration with the Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture Research (EIAR) and international nonprofit TechnoServe, was launched more than two years behind the original schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It identifies opportunities across the coffee value chain to substantially increase the country’s exports of high-quality, climate-friendly coffee, thereby improving incomes for farmers and creating jobs for millions of workers.
“The coffee industry is the driving force of the economy, ecology, socio-cultural and spiritual life of our people,” wrote ECTA Director-General Adugna Debela in the strategy’s foreword.
“The objective of this long-term comprehensive strategy is to maximize Ethiopia’s coffee export revenues and increase the incomes of the millions of smallholder farmers,” he added.
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Smallholder farmers already contribute over 85 percent of the country’s current coffee production.
The Coffee strategy, which will run until 2033, aims to help develop a long-term, shared vision among the coffee sector’s key stakeholders and rests on six key pillars.
These include research, production-enhancing extension services, processing, value-addition, marketing, and sector strengthening.
“For each pillar, the strategy analyzes the current challenges that impede growth and offers recommended approaches to address them,” said one of its developers TechnoServe.
If these approaches are implemented, the strategy estimates that the country’s coffee exports could grow from US$780 million in 2019 to between US$3.6 billion and US$4.6 billion within 15 years.
This would also increase farmer incomes from US$468 million to between US$2.7 billion and US$3.5 billion and generate employment for 2.7 million people.
The supply of Ethiopian coffee on the global market could also grow significantly, from 470,000 MT in 2019 to almost 1.26 million MT in 2033, as per the document.
The strategy also outlines steps to support the environmental and social sustainability of coffee production in Ethiopia, including ways in which coffee production can help to protect the country’s forests and the diverse wild coffee varieties that reside within the woodlands.
“Ethiopia has an enormous opportunity to help meet growing global demand for coffee and, in the process, deliver better, more resilient livelihoods for millions of families,” said Paul Stewart, TechnoServe’s global coffee director.