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On 26 February, the European Union's Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mr Johan Borgstam, and the EU Head of Cooperation, Mr Erik Habers, visited Manna Woreda near Jimma, the heartland of Ethiopian coffee farming.
Accompanied by EU coffee specialist Dr Eshetu Mulatu, this field mission is preparing the launch of the EU-Coffee Action for Ethiopia (EU-CafE), a 450 million ETB (€15m) project which will help Ethiopian smallholder farmers ...boost the yields and quality of their coffee crops through better seeds and farming techniques. In combination with improvements in marketing, this will allow coffee farmers and processors – many of them rural women and youth – to improve their living conditions.
Coffee is extremely important to Ethiopia, as the land of origin of Arabica. Approximately twenty million Ethiopians make a living from coffee, from farmers to roasters to baristas and exporters. Green coffee beans are Ethiopia's main export, generating up to €750 million in hard currency each year.
Grown under forest canopies, Ethiopian Arabica is considered among the best in the world and sought after by coffee aficionados everywhere. In spite of this, Ethiopian growers could still command a higher price for their coffee. Building on forty years of support to the sector, the European Union stands ready to help Ethiopian coffee farmers improve their fortunes in the years to come.