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Success Stories

Cup of Excellence: Inviting Farmers to the Olympics of Coffee

In a series of 11 workshops in all coffee growing areas, the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority and Feed the Future Ethiopia Value Chain Activity (VCA) led awareness creation campaigns on the Cup of Excellence (CoE). The workshops invited farmers to take an active role in the upcoming competition. More than 2,600 farmers were introduced to the benefits and importance of CoE, the rules and criteria to enter the competition, and trained on postharvest practices to ensure coffee quality.

Participant farmers said they were motivated to enter the competition. “I am glad I came to this workshop. Learning about CoE gave me more confidence to produce quality coffee. The timing is also perfect as producers in my area have already started to shift attention to specialty coffee,” said Kundisa Ferke, a coffee producer from SNNPR and owner of an export company named South Bench Morita Agro-Industry Plc.

Farmers in Bonga, Mizan, Dire Dewa, and Amhara shared the same sentiment. The competition is an opportunity to promote Ethiopian coffee as a separate origin. “I believe we have the best coffee, but it’s unknown,” said Ato Atalay from Dera, Amhara. He started growing coffee about 15 years ago and says shifting to coffee from other crops was the best decision he has made as a farmer.

“Our coffee is very special, and ecology is suitable. Many farmers in my woreda are now realizing the potential and shifting to coffee plantations. However, we are not recognized by the market. I believe CoE is an opportunity for us to promote our unique flavors,’’ he said.

Farmers from well-recognized coffee growing areas are also looking forward to the competition. “We are often discouraged to take extra care for our coffee because there are no incentives. This competition will change that,” said Gashaw Kinfe, a coffee grower in Oromia.

Farmers at all workshops shared the opinion that they have been seeking an opportunity that pays for quality. “Quality has a cost,” said Bekele Heto from Gedeo, SNNPR. “We are not compensated accordingly and we have limited information about cupping and grading process. This workshop was a lesson on that. I look forward to participating in the competition and learn more about my coffee.”

Coffee experts and union leaders are also enthusiastic about CoE. “One of the big bottlenecks for the coffee sector is finding high-end markets for quality coffee. CoE presents an opportunity to address this problem and we have to work hard to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Tekele G/Kiros, quality control expert from the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority. “I have already started the discussion with my colleagues on what we can do to help coffee growers take full advantage of the competition,” he added.

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