If world-wide coffee buyers are well-informed of where the beans come from, how could this positively lead the coffee producers and ensure their betterment economically and environmentally?
Last year, Ethiopa has newly adopted a barcode system that not only tracks and provides information based on where the beans come from but also about the producers. British national daily newspaper, ‘The Guardian’ has reported that this new barcode system promises better business for the Ethiopian coffee producers
“Coffee buyers are interested in who is growing their coffee. Our aim is to promote our producers,” explains Fekadu Dugassa, manager of the Limu Innarea Coffee Co-operative Union, which is based in the high-altitude plains of outer Jimma.
According to The Guardian, farmers here expect the hi-tech tagging system to deliver a premium price for their traceable coffee in a global market that favours origin verification.
“Our coffee in Ethiopia is diverse, and traceability is not just finding where it’s from but who is involved, meaning the growers. These facts will improve our ability to move coffee and create premium value for buyers and consumers,” says Ermias Eshetu, chief executive of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX).
With sights set on dominating the high-end coffee market and improving the livelihood of millions of producers, the ECX, USAid and the sustainable coffee programme – a global initiative including buyers such as Nestlé – invested $4.2m (£2.9m) in the new traceability system.
Since the system’s November launch, producers have already traded nearly 1,000 tonnes of traceable coffee, worth more than $2.5m, through the ECX. The project came about through an ECX partnership with USAid through its agribusiness market development programme and feed the future initiative, a global network of development projects investing in local food systems, agriculture and nutrition.
According to The Guardian, this new system is expected to increase prices of Ethiopia’s speciality coffees as traceable coffee is more expensive. Farmers and their unions will be able to push for higher prices on the ECX because of this premium – good news for 5 million smallholders, who are among the poorest coffee farmers in the world despite producing sought-after varieties including Sidama, Kaffa and Yirgacheffe.