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Italian Groups Leading $2.6M Investment in Ethiopian Coffee Industry

UNIDO photo from the April 3 signing.

UNIDO photo from the April 3 signing.

Italian agencies and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have signed a financing agreement that will invest approximately $2.6 million USD in the Ethiopian coffee sector in a project called “Improving the Sustainability and Inclusiveness of the Ethiopian Coffee Value Chain through Private and Public Partnership.”

Supported by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, the project will be implemented by UNIDO in partnership with Italian coffee giant Illycaffè and the Ernesto Illy Foundation, the Illy-family-run nonprofit that has historically focused on scientific research in the coffee sector. The groups said they will work closely with Ethiopian coffee institutions, including the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Development and Marketing Authority, which was officially re-formed last May.

The overarching goal of the three-year project is to increase the quality, traceability and international recognition of Ethiopian coffee to increase export revenues and generate more income for the country’s thousands of smallholder farmers.

With implementation in Addis Ababa and the Oromia and SNNP regions, the program is being designed to provide direct support to smallholders and cooperatives through the dissemination of best practices for coffee agronomy, along with tool kits for post-harvest processing, washing station infrastructure development, cupping laboratory creation and modern marketing strategies.

The project will also provide the Coffee and Tea Development and Marketing Authority with financial support and an Addis-based coffee roasting training center designed to develop skills while promoting domestic development of roasted coffee.

A joint announcement from the Italian development agency and UNIDO said the role of Illycaffé and the Ernesto Illy Foundation will include financial support as well as work directly with project partners to scale up “local capacities and knowledge of the coffee value chain,” as well as “serving as trading facilitators and advisors.”

“The coffee value chain is very important for this country,” Italian Agency for
Development Cooperation Addis Ababa office head Ginevra Letizia said in a public announcement of the signing issued last week. “Coffee is a treasure of the culture of Ethiopia and it is a duty to improve the coffee production. The genetic variety is the most important in the world and the government strategy rightly stresses the importance of improving the traceability and the quality of the Ethiopian coffee”

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