Building Capacity Along the Entire Coffee Value Chain
Feed the Future Ethiopia Value Chain Activity (VCA) is participating in the Specialty Coffee Expo in Boston, MA this week, traveling with a delegation of Ethiopian government officials and representatives from major coffee associations to expand the Ethiopian brand and export opportunities for smallholder farmers. Of particular note is the official announcement that the world-renowned Cup of Excellence competition will be held in Ethiopia in March 2020. This key event for the coffee industry is made possible through an ongoing partnership between the Alliance for Coffee Excellence, the Ethiopia Coffee and Tea Authority, and VCA. Read more.
VCA has focused on coffee as a key crop since the beginning, working with stakeholders across the value chain to create access to high-quality inputs such as seeds and nursery equipment to increase yields; introduce improved postharvest handling practices to ensure quality beans; and strengthen the overall market by linking producers with processors, roasters, and exporters.
April has already been a busy month, with two key training events held in-country, as described below.
Bringing the global coffee market to the smallholder
Coffee from western Ethiopia hit the sweet spot with buyers during the Feed the Future Ethiopia Value Chain Activity (VCA) coffee cupping and business-to-business event in Jimma on April 2. During the event, 17 farmers and unions from Oromia, Amhara, and SNNP signed new sales agreements with five international buyers. Their coffee samples received high scores during an intensive cupping session organized by Q-grader experts. Fifty samples were tested and graded in front of a panel of 25 international buyers, including companies such as Starbucks, Volcafe, Trabocca, and Louis Dreyfus. At the event, Abdullah Bagersh, the former president of African Fine Coffee Association (AFCA), delivered a keynote address about the current global coffee market, buyers’ expectations, and the concept of speciality coffee. Representatives from the Agricultural Growth Program, Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authorities, regional bureaus, Jimma Agricultural Research Centre, and Jimma University contributed to a group discussion on opportunities for the Ethiopian coffee industry.
Next generation of coffee cuppers trained in Jimma
From April 3-5, 20 Jimma University agronomy students, faculty members, and PhD candidates received a training on the basics of coffee quality assessment and cupping. This three-day curriculum was developed in partnership with Coffee Quality Institute (CQI), and aimed to identify cuppers with skills required to pursue the more rigorous Q-grader certification. VCA and CQI are also collaborating with Jimma University to design a coffee grading/tasting education program for students who will later enter the coffee sector at all levels of the value chain. “We are excited for the opportunity. I look forward for the follow-up training and join the market as a professional cupper,” said student Eyerusalem Bekele.