Ethiopia approves new coffee initiative after political unrest

Solidaridad began implementing the Oromia Coffee Development Project in South Oromia this year after receiving approval from the recently stabilized local government. The project is funded by Comic Relief and aims to reach over 10,000 producers who can help contribute to a more sustainable coffee supply chain with a special focus on climate-smart practices, promoting diversification and gender.

Bringing coffee to the market along the volcano ridge

Oromia Regional State

The initiative started after a series of protests and unrest in Oromia Regional State in 2016. Oromia is the largest region in Ethiopia, which is completely covered by fertile highland areas suitable for coffee production and other food crops. Due to the unstable situation, the regional government of Oromia could not yet approve the coffee initiative implemented by Solidaridad. By the end of 2016, the government finally approved the initiative and fully supports the good practices Solidaridad is promoting in the coffee sector.

Adaptation is a must

With this new coffee initiative, Solidaridad is reaching out to more than 10,000 coffee farmers in South Oromia that are organized and have the potential to become specialized producers. These farmers are receiving technical support tailored to the specific needs and priorities in their production zones. Agronomic topics are adapted per zone and district.

Common topics provided by Solidaridad are related to soil fertility, manure and composting, pruning and rejuvenating coffee trees. By setting up new nurseries at the cooperatives' sites, farmers have better access to improved coffee varieties. Farmers are also encouraged to produce shade trees, leading to more coffee production and healthier soils.

Female farmers are an essential part of a sustainable coffee supply chain (Photo by: Niels van Iperen)

Promoting gender equity

When piloting new innovations, Solidaridad promotes gender and women's participation in the coffee value chain. About 1,000 women from three cooperatives were selected to receive support from Solidaridad in order to better utilize their skills, increase knowledge of business, production and entrepreneurship, as well as how to access micro-finance. Seed capital can be used by women to make small investments in local dairy production, coffee tools or other side businesses.

The progress of gender interventions and main results will be reported to the Global Coffee Platform via the Gender for Equity Partnership.

Learn more about Solidaridad programmes in East & Central Africa