Coffee Production Systems in Ethiopia
There are four types of production systems in Ethiopia : forest
coffee, semi- forest coffee, garden coffee and plantation coffee. 95% of the
coffee production from these systems can be considered as organic, although
not yet officially certified.
This is found in South and South-Western Ethiopia (Bale, West Wolega, Bench-
Maji, Keficho-Shekicho, Metu and Jimma) These are the centers of origin of
C. arabica. Forest coffee is self-sown and grows under the shade of natural
forest trees. Forest coffee offers a wide diversity for selection and
breeding so as to have plant stock selected for disease resistance, high
yields and top quality in terms of aroma as well as flavor. Forest coffee
accounts for about 10% of the total coffee production.
This production system is also found in the Southern and South-Western parts
of the Country. Farmers thin and select forest trees so as to let in
adequate sunlight to the coffee trees and still provide adequate shade.
Farmers slash the weeds once a year to facilitate harvesting of the coffee
beans. This system accounts for about 35% of the coffee production.
Garden coffee is found in the vicinity of farmers' residences. It is found
mainly in the Southern and Eastern part of the country (Sidamo, Gedeo, South
and North Omo. Hararghe, Wolega and Gurage Zones, East and West.) It is
planted at low densities ranging from 1000 to 1800 trees per hectare, mostly
fertilized with organic material and inter- cropped. It accounts for about
50% of the total pro- duction. This production system is on the increase as
it is currently being introduced in South West Ethiopia (Kaficho, Shekicho
Plantation coffee is grown on plantations owned by the state (currently put
up for sale/privatisation) and on some well managed smallholders coffee
farms. In this production system, recommended agronomic practices like
improved seedlings, spacing, proper mulching, manuring, weeding, shade
regulation and pruning are practiced. Only state owned plantations are known
to use chemical fertilizers and herbicides. Plantation coffee accounts for
about 5% of the total production.
The Uniqueness of Ethiopian Coffee
Ethiopian coffee is rightly known as highland coffee by consumers. The
diversified types of C. arabica in the country, growing in an ideal
environment has allowed Ethiopia to be attractive to the world coffee
market. It has a great deal to offer in the way of gourmet, specialty and
organic coffees. Ethiopian coffee is rich in acidity and body. It possesses
an aromatic and sweet flavor and is characterised by winey, spicy notes and
the world famous mocha tastes so highly prized by connoisseurs. Because it
has so much to offer, it can be enjoyed as a single varietal and it can also
be blended with coffees from other origins to upgrade them.