Addis Ababa — The First International Conference on Ethiopian Coffee was opened here at the Hilton Addis yesterday. The Ethiopian Coffee Exporters Association (ECEA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade,USAID and Commercial Bank of Ethiopia organized the Conference with the theme:" Strengthening the Legacy of Our Coffee".
The conference is aimed at enhancing the position of Ethiopian Coffee in international market through facilitating exchange of information and experience among stakeholders to address key opportunities and challenges facing the coffee sector; as well as promoting the uniqueness of Ethiopian coffee to spell out its vision for the future.
Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Haile-Mariam Dessalegn said coffee is a mainstay for more than 15 million Ethiopians who are involved directly or indirectly in the sector.
Haile-Mariam said that modern trading of the commodity and comparative advantage Ethiopia has over other coffee producing and exporting countries, has enabled it to trade in better volume, enhancing its global share in the coffee market and and thereby boost export income.
According to him, Ethiopia's coffee production and export picked up over the past nine years to an export volume reaching close to 200,000 tonnes, generating close to 842 million USD in foreign exchange in 2010/11.
Moreover, over the past four years, coffee traded through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), which is the first of its kind in Africa, has raised it significantly reaching 768.8 million USD in the 2010/11; with a strong growth in volume amounting to 235, 131 tonnes. Coffee accounted for 74 per cent of the trade value in 2010/11, taking the lead in the commodity exchange market, he noted.
International Coffee Organization (ICO) Head of Operations, Jose Dauster Sette, on his part said that Ethiopia can sustainably produce and supply fine specialty coffee, with the potential of producing all coffee types growing across the world. Ethiopia is not only the birthplace, an important producer, and a leading exporter of Coffee Arabica, but also a heavy consumer, he said.
He also indicated that the structural, policy environment, sustainability challenges such as poor access to market and long supply chain, low level of public investment in agriculture, adaptation and mitigation to climate change and other adverse weather events are the major ones.
European Union (EU) head of delegation, Xavier Marchal noted that Ethiopia and coffee are the two sides of a coin. As a result, Ethiopia has to provide the world with profile of coffee and has to have better understanding of coffee to increase its competitiveness in the global market. Moreover, improving the quality and quantity of coffee in a sustainable base would play pivotal role in improving the livelihood of farmers, he added.
The Ethiopian coffee export in the international market would increase by at least 25 per cent from the present level, in which the export volume will exceed 220,000 tonnes and the foreign earnings will surpass one billion USD setting a new record of the economy's foreign exchange generation with a seven digit figure from a single agricultural commodity in the history of the nation's export sector performance.
Members of the ECEA, Ministers of Trade and Agriculture, the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) and the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange Authority, local financial institutions, principal actors in the Ethiopian coffee trade and international coffee buyers are attending the conference.