A new sustainability initiative led by the international nonprofit TechnoServe is attempting to shine a light on those forests in order to both promote and protect them while growing a market for “Ethiopia’s Forest Coffee.”
The book follows the notion that Ethiopia’s rich and diverse coffee landscape can also be characterized by fragility, as deforestation and climate change combine to threaten traditional production practices and livelihoods.
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The work is part of a currently eight year initiative called Partnerships for Forests, which is being funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office of the UK (FCDO), an agency designed to protect the UK’s global interests.
The Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority has voiced its support for the promotional effort, with director Adugna Debela writing in the guide book introduction:
Ethiopian coffee was born in the forest, and to the surprise of many, it continues to live there. These coffee forests are a unique and valuable resource, providing sustainable livelihoods for thousands of families and serving as a natural genetic bank for future generations of coffee connoisseurs. Protecting them is therefore of paramount importance, and it is a responsibility that falls to all of us.
According to the program’s directives, protecting Ethiopian coffee forests is also a matter of promoting coffee cultivated within those forests to international markets, who may pay premiums both for the perceived environmental benefits of biodiversity and coffee quality.
UK-based coffee trading company Falcon Coffees has partnered with TechnoServe in the promotional project, and will print and distribute the guide to roasters, according to a press announcement from TechnoServe.
The book and interactive map highlight coffee-rich zones in Western Ethiopia — including Illibabor, Jimma, Kaffa, Bench Sheko, and Bale — along with numerous coffee-producing cooperatives within each.
“Ethiopia is probably the only origin where the manner in which coffee is farmed by smallholders protects tropical forests and the biodiversity within,” Konrad Brits, CEO of Falcon Coffees, said in the TechnoServe announcement. “This book captures the importance of this practice in the face of the climate crisis. Through fact and imagery, you will meet the communities that carry out this act of stewardship while producing some of Ethiopia’s finest coffees. This is an important book about people who need our support and whose work we need to champion.”