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Empowering Women Coffee Farmers in Ethiopia

October 15, 2020

Toward greater resilience and food security through more sustainable agriculture

Yet despite being the world’s fifth largest producer of coffee, and Africa’s top producer, Ethiopia’s agriculture suffers from unpredictable harvests and soil degradation caused by deforestation and climate change. In addition to these challenging conditions, the country’s millions of primarily smallholder coffee farmers often live in poverty, lacking knowledge of sustainable agricultural practices and access to financing to grow their production.

Nearly three quarters of coffee workers in Ethiopia are women, yet less than half of them earn an income. And with the additional burden of daily housework, they have limited time and even less access to expertise, with leadership roles held mostly by men in farming communities.

To secure Ethiopia’s supply of top quality coffee for the future, LDC has worked in partnership with Strauss Coffee and PUR Projet since 2019, to help farmers in the Sidama Region rise out of poverty, through training on good agricultural practices (GAPs).

“We are pleased to work in collaboration with LDC to address the real needs of coffee farmers in Ethiopia. This successful partnership led us to plan new projects together, to continue supporting smallholder farmers in the region,” said Rafi Camhi, Business Operations & Performance Excellence Manager for Strauss Coffee.

In addition to training on climate-efficient farm management, the project offers farmers the opportunity to work closely with agronomists to develop demonstration plots – fields where they practice the agricultural techniques they learn about. This helps them see the tangible results of applying GAPs.

So far 250 farmers have been trained through the project, 15,000 coffee seedlings have been distributed among 250 farmers, and in 2020, 500 farmers will be equipped with new farming tools such as scissors, saws, etc.,” said Charlotte Guibbaud-Navaud, LDC’s Coffee Sustainability Manager for Africa and Asia.       

Recognizing that women are keen to develop their communities, but are at a disadvantage due to cultural gender-segregation of tasks, the project also aims to increase women’s participation in Ethiopia’s coffee farming industry by making their farms more sustainable and profitable. Training therefore covers gender equality topics and the project also works to simplify women’s house chores by  building improved cook stoves with them. Materials are sourced locally, and women earn additional income by building improved cookstoves in farmers’ houses.

“I just started using the cookstove this year, and I am able to save some time, cooking and multi-tasking on different household activities. Maybe with the time that I have now, I will go back to school or start a small business,” said Kebele Dila Gumba, one of the project beneficiaries in 2019.

Moving forward, we will continue to work alongside Strauss Coffee to improve the livelihoods of Ethiopian coffee farmers. Our four-year project plans to extend its support to women coffee farmers in Yirgacheffe, another region of Ethiopia, once activities can safely resume while respecting safety measures in place during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.


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