Farm Africa has launched a new project to help more than 130,000 forest coffee producers in Ethiopia’s Oromia regional state improve their livelihoods by increasing the sustainable production of high-quality coffee.
Funded by High Water Global, the Sustainable Forest Coffee Value Chain Development project will use the participatory forest management (PFM) approach, which Farm Africa has been developing for more than 20 years.
PFM brings together local communities and local government to share responsibility for developing sustainable plans for the forests. In return for protecting precious biodiversity, communities are allowed to harvest wild coffee from the forest in a sustainable way.
Project staff will work with seven existing participatory forest management cooperatives in the Chora woreda in Buno-Bedele zone, offering training in the production and handling of quality coffee and support to build links to national and international markets and increase their bargaining ability.
The wild Arabica coffees growing in the region have good potential to command high prices nationally and internationally, but local coffee farmers have been largely unable to realise this potential. The local coffee market is currently dominated by local brokers and traders, who pay farmers low prices for their coffee.
Without access to alternative markets, farmers have sought to increase their incomes by increasing the volumes of coffee sold. The unsustainable expansion of coffee plantations is endangering the forest.
Working with Oromia Cooperative Bank, the project will help the cooperatives gain access to credit to enable them to invest in developing their coffee businesses to enable them to deliver the high quality of coffee demanded by international speciality coffee market.
We will also help community members, predominantly women, to establish 21 village saving and loan associations, which will strengthen the practice of saving and provide finance to develop alternative sources of income such as engagement in petty trading.
At a recent project launch workshop in Bedele town, Ato Girma Terefe, Head Administrator of Buno Bedele zone and Chora woreda commented:
“The project is vital as it gives attention to enhancing the livelihoods of farmers and protecting natural resources. Connecting farmers to the central market is among the top issues that farmers raise in meetings. I believe this project will make a difference addressing the biggest matter in the woreda.”
Commenting on Farm Africa’s previous work with coffee cooperatives in the region, Ato Getu Shikur of High Water Global added:
“Those achievements are the reason to start this project so that we will be able to ensure sustainability and expand best practices.”