South-South Cooperation Energises Ethiopia’s Plans to Launch a National Coffee Platform

31 Jan 2014

imagePhoto: State Minister Yackob Yalla (second from far right) taking part in coffee tasting in Costa Rica. Ethiopia is the birthplace of Arabica coffee and the largest coffee producer in Africa.

A high level Ethiopian government delegation recently traveled to Costa Rica and Guatemala on a study tour to take away lessons from those countries’ experiences around national commodity platforms for major export items.

 

The mission looked at ways to improve the production practices and processes, enhance branding and marketing, improve quality, increase stakeholder engagement, and address sustainability challenges in the Ethiopian coffee sector.

 

The delegation was led by State Minister Yakob Yalla who noted, We want to enter a global market and modernize the agricultural sector. We were looking at the best, value-adding agricultural and trade systems so we can follow that path and establish a platform for coffee that is sustainable and responsible”.

 

The country seeks to further capitalize on the huge untapped potential of the coffee sector and maximize the financial return from it. As part of Ethiopia’s plan to achieve its target of increasing production and earning from coffee, the government is setting up a national coffee platform. The platform provides a mechanism for the development of robust branding, marketing, and enforcement of premium pricing in the export market. The platform will also serve as a forum for constructive dialogue among different stakeholders engaged in the coffee supply chain.

The delegation noted that the study trip had helped them to get increased awareness of the value added of broad-based dialogue, including on options for fostering collective decision-making. Although stakeholder involvement, among the Ethiopian coffee sector, has already increased, further improvements, such as reaching out to new partners (including the private sector and civil society), are necessary to improve existing practices. The government is therefore committed to organise the steering committee meetings more often and to further operationalize the task forces of the coffee platform and making the platform operational in the next few months. 

National coffee platform meetings are seen as a crucial  means of getting a constructive dialogue going with the various stakeholders, addressing major challenges of the sector, and taking advantage of  existing export opportunities. The first meeting is scheduled for the second quarter of 2014 and stakeholders will be invited to officially launch the national coffee platform of Ethiopia.

”Our trade sector development project is designed to strengthen the sustainability of coffee as a principal export commodity in Ethiopia through the establishment of the National Coffee Platorm,” explains Mr. Eyob Tesfaye, UNDP Ethiopia’s  Team Leader of the Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction. Having accompanied the delegation to Guatamala and Costa Rica he stressed that, “ lessons learnt from Costa Rica’s National Pineapple Platform and Guatemala’s Sustainable Commodities Assistance Platform show that promoting inclusive participation is highly critical in resolving sector specific challenges.”

“We want to establish a platform for coffee that is sustainable and responsible, like the one Costa Rica has for pineapples,” emphasised State Minister Yakob Yalla and added, “One of the main focuses of our visit to Costa Rica was to see how we can penetrate the global market with the help of the government.”

During the study tour, the Ethiopian delegation visited  Costa Rica’s national coffee institute (ICAFE) and learnt of the country’s extensive measures to ensure quality in all aspects from cultivation, harvesting, processing, storage and shipping coffee to the markets. The delegation was briefed by high-ranking officials from the Ministries of Agriculture, Environment and Trade as well as by coffee exporters’ associations who shared their experience on forging a constructive alliance with relevant stakeholders and setting up collaborative engagement under a national platform. Improved policy frameworks was also said to have helped enhance production, value addition and export competitiveness in these countries.

 

In Guatemala, the delegation visited the Export Association (AGEXPORT) and its Coffee division, the Board of Directors and technical experts of the National Coffee Association (ANACAFE), and the Rainforest Alliance. Site visits to various coffee farms were also organized to showcase the ongoing work on the ground.

For more information contact:

Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction Unit
Team Leader:  Eyob.Tesfaye@undp.org

Facts and Figures: Ethiopian Coffee

  • Around 30 million Ethiopians are employed in the production, processing and trading of coffee.
  • Coffee is the country's most important cash crop and largest export commodity accounting for nearly 25 per cent of Ethiopia’s exports.
  • In order to boost production volumes and export earning the government plans to expand land used for coffee plantations from 462,000 to 815,000 hectares by the end of the 2015.