Ethiopia aims to quadruple production in five years

The Government of Ethiopia (GOE) has announced its plan to quadruple coffee production over the next five years. The GOE’s Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Trade have finalised the second phase of the country’s Growth and Transformation Plan, a strategy developed following a six-month partnership with Agrear Consultant. The study found that open trade between farmers and international buyers was required, as was the refurbishment of old crops. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said that while Ethiopia’s coffee production is likely to increase gradually, the magnitude of the governments projected increase seems unattainable.

The USDA said it no longer expects production for marketing year 2015-2016 to reach the record levels forecast the previous year. Production is expected to hold steady at 6.5 million 60-kilogram bags, less than production levels registered the proceeding year. The USDA also raised fears for the quality of the 2015-2016 crop. “The quality of the coffee crop might deteriorate somewhat due to the delayed Belg rains (March – April) and the timing/length of the Meher rains (May – September),” said the USDA. “However, at this stage it is too early to tell what the overall impact on quality might be.” According to the USDA, around 15 million people, or approximately 15 per cent of the birthplace of coffee’s population, derive their livelihood from coffee. The USDA has reported that some farmers in Africa’s largest producer of coffee are switching to growing khat, an amphetamine-like stimulant, which has been chewed by communities in the Horn of Africa for years. The decision of farmers in Ethiopia’s east to plant khat, which commands a higher price and can be harvested several times a year, is not expected to have a noticeable difference on production. The USDA predicts exports will continue their upward trend for the fifth consecutive year with marketing year 2015-2016 forecast to hit a record 3.5 million 60-kilogram bags.

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