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October 28, 2009
In birthplace of coffee, Ethiopian farmers plant other crops

A museum is being erected in Bonga, Ethiopia — the birthplace of coffee. But because small-scale farmers are fragmented and disorganized, they are reaching the potential of the coffee crop.

Worldfocus correspondent Martin Seemungal reports from Ethiopia’s coffee country, where farmers are deciding to plant corn and khat, a leafy drug that is chewed with stimulating effects somewhere between caffeine and cocaine.

For more on Worldfocus’ coverage on Ethiopia, click here. Listen to Worldfocus Radio on Entrepreneurship in Ethiopia. Watch the PBS Wide Angle film “The Market Maker” about one woman who has created a commodities exchange and revolutionized agricultural distribution in the country.

For more Worldfocus coverage of Ethiopia, visit our extended coverage page: Ethiopia Past and Present.




[…] Here’s an interesting five-minute video from World Focus, a public television news show, about the status of coffee growing in coffee’s birthplace Bonga, Ethiopia. As we’ve seen in coffee growing regions around the world, when coffee farmers can’t find the markets or prices for their crops, the temptation is strong to uproot the plants and grow something else. In Ethiopia a huge challenge comes from the addictive, easy to grow (though soil-depleting) narcotic khat. […]


at last the Woyane is monopolizing the coffee export market..what else is left? the greed and take over of Woyane anf the Tigranization of the economy is creepling the other participant…what else they will take over next????


I was struck by the beauty of the people!….It seems fitting (as i’ve said elsewhere)that our earliest ancestors (thus far discovered)–4.4 million years old–come from Ethiopia…and that africa is the cradle of humanity. Humanity!
Secondly, i read and duly noted the apparently well-informed comments (#2) of ‘Concerned’…for which, thanks. I always wonder what can be done so that small farmers get the return they deserve (Fair trade seems more equitable in Central and South America, but admittedly my information is sketchy). Perhaps no real change will come short of the collapse/implosion of the worldwide system of capitalism; essentially an ugly, brutal imposition of slavery, war, oppression of women (this is probably number one in longevity), and devastation of our Earth/Home,
One major thing that thinking/feeling people can do–CONSUME LESS–people in the overdeveloped world, that is, and above the bottom economic rung. As Gandhi said, “Live simply that others may simply live.” And, this will non-violently accelerate the collapse of the present (dis)order.


What the hell is doing Ghiday Bereh from Mekele in Goba, ET? The Weyane’s are controlling everything it is not fair to the natives


The average Ethiopian farmer does not benefit from fair-trade or what have you. You can give it all kinds of trade label but ultimately its nothing but a fiasco. First of all, the average farmer does not have the mechanism to export their product either individually or in group. The regime in Ethiopia discourages it, because it buys it from the farmers in bulk for dirt cheap price and export it itself and makes a thousand times more than the farmer who slaved for it. As recent as a year ago the Eritrean regime opened its port for Ethiopian entrepreneurs to export their products through one of the ports close to Ethiopia for free. But the regime in Ethiopia is against the idea of using Eritrean free sea port, for it will spoil the lucrative income it has been ripping off from the coffee grower by buying it for cheap and export it using expensive seaport tariff owned by a UAE billionaires through Djibouti. The regime in Ethiopia knows very well that free port access means the average farmer will export the product either individually or in group instead of depending on the regime for exporting it. For that one reason the regime in Ethiopia opted out from using the free seaport and instead pays to export using other expensive seaport in the region, essentially preventing the average farmer from benefiting from his own labor. The regime in Ethiopia discourages hard work and earning the fruits of their labor, instead the regime prefers to continuously depend on donation, and it has been getting donation for the last 18 years, since the first year it has conquered the country. Unlike Ethiopia, Kenyan farmers have solid infrastructure left by the British, not only coffee but they also have experience exporting their tea leaves. My advice for all coffee drinkers would be stop buying from fair-traders, because you are only supplying more money to the regimes to stay in power longer so the farmers suffer more. If possible spread the truth and let the world know that the regime in Ethiopia is the primary beneficiary of the fair trade fiasco, not the farmers doing all the heavy toil.


Your report shows coffee growing as it has for centuries: wild in a forest. These days, such “shade-grown” coffee is praised by environmentalists because, unlike the coffee grown on large plantations, it does not require the clearing of land and cutting down of trees that demolishes habitat for birds and other wildlife and causes erosion of precious soil. Such coffee is also grown without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, qualifying it for the “organic” label. In the U.S., shade-grown, organic coffees cost a pretty penny. I would happily pay more if I knew that it was helping ordinary people in Ethiopia to make a better life for themselves. So I will look for shade-grown, organically produced, and fair-trade coffees from Ethiopia — probably at my local Trader Joe’s. I do try to avoid buying conventionally grown coffee from big plantations despite its being cheaper. It all boils down to values.

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