Coffee Production Methods in Ethiopia
In general, Ethiopian coffee is produced sustainably, since much is grown as garden coffee. This means that coffee farmers plant it near their homes and it is interspersed with other plants. It is also common for growers to grow coffee with a semi-forestry system, in which the natural forest is modified by cutting weeds and shrubs to regulate the shade and coffee seedlings are introduced. It is estimated that only 5% of coffee production is in coffee plantations in Ethiopia.
Getahun Gebrekidan is the product manager for coffee and tea in Central and Eastern Africa in Fairtrade Africa. He says: “There are external coffee growers [contract coffee growers], plantations and small producers in Ethiopia… Groups of small coffee growers in Ethiopia are organized according to the principles of cooperative societies. They are voluntary and open to all individual coffee growers. ”
“Any small coffee farmer who wants to join the cooperative society and can assume the responsibilities of membership can do so without suffering discrimination based on their gender, social class, race, disability, religion, among others. Cooperative societies are democratic organizations run by their members, who actively participate in establishing policies and making decisions; Each member has the same right to vote. ”
Getahun says that coffee cooperatives “support and train each of their coffee growers in the use of good agricultural practices, the collection of coffee cherries, the processing of cherries with dry and wet [methods]; and if there is capacity to export, the export of coffee and the distribution of dividends to each of its coffee members ”.
He tells me that two or more primary cooperative societies can form unions and that, in the Ethiopian coffee supply chain, the unions support individual primary cooperatives in harvesting and processing and “in doing secondary processing, such as threshing, selection, cleaning and packing; and export coffee and share the dividend with each cooperative society.”
It is an effective step system that focuses on good constant monitoring and compliance with strict international quality standards, a vital element for buyers of special coffee.