A turbulent year for Ethiopian coffee farmers

A turbulent year for Ethiopian coffee farmers

02 Jan 2018

In the first half of 2017, large-scale riots led to hundreds of deaths and significant damage to coffee producers in Ethiopia. Climate change also caused extremely changeable seasons. For the first time since the 1950s, frost has damaged thousands of hectares of coffee plantations.

Coffee is extremely sensitive to temperature changes. Small farmers are particularly hard hit. They are directly dependent on the yield of their land for their existence and are financially unable to protect themselves against the consequences of climate change and deforestation in order to meet the demand for firewood.

That is why FairClimateFund, together with coffee cooperative OCFCU, invests in the distribution of efficient cooking stoves to around 10,000 coffee farmers. Cooking on these appliances reduces wood use by 50%, which preserves shade trees for coffee plantations and reduces CO₂ emissions by up to 70% compared to the old situation. There is also a very strong decrease in smoke indoors and women save up to 30 minutes in time when preparing a meal.

More than 10,000 cleaner cooking appliances installed
Last year, around 4,000 cooking appliances were installed in our project. A total of 10,121 ovens have now been ordered for 5,060 households and 8,581 have been delivered. The challenge still lies in the distribution of the cooking appliances. The terrain is hilly and difficult to access, there is almost no public transport and villages and houses are spread over a large area. To partly overcome this problem, our local team uses a truck to transport the wood ovens from the cooperatives to a fixed location in a village where farmers can pick them up.

Empowering women
In addition to promoting efficient cooking appliances, significant investments were also made in 2017 in training on their use. At the start of the project, these training courses and the promotion of the ovens were mainly aimed at farmers (read: men), but now women are increasingly involved. They are encouraged to come to the cooperative, provide training to users and promote the cooking appliances in the village.

Hopeful future
The implementation of the “cookstove” project in Ghimbi and the surrounding area will of course not immediately affect climate change, but positive effects are already visible. Fewer trees are being cut down to protect the coffee plants, but training in the field of climate adaptation is also paying off. These effects, combined with a stabilizing political situation, lead to a more hopeful future for Zarichun Fikadu and other farmers in Ethiopia.