The origin of the project is based on a direct request by the Ethiopian government to UNIDO to support industrialization programs that leverage agriculture. Coffee is the first export product for Ethiopia as well as an addition of value deriving from a reorganization of the production system, which is important for the development of the nation, especially considering that coffee production and its trade are the main sources of livelihood for about 20 million Ethiopians.

Ethiopia can be considered as the birth place  of coffee: it hosts about 2000 species and cultivars of coffee, and international research bodies have formally attributed 24 different varieties of Arabica coffee to Ethiopia, thus endowing Ethiopia with the widest genetic range compared to to any other coffee producing country in the world.

The project, which began in 2015, had, in line with UNIDO’s public-private partnership approach, the contribution of illycaffé S.p.A. and the Fondazione Ernesto Illy, which provided private sector-oriented support to increase the impact of the project itself: this model traces new perspectives in cooperation between Governments, interest groups and the private sector, with the promotion of investments through the ISID strategy (Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development), in accordance with the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

Dedicated to collaboration with the institutions involved, in particular in support of the country’s Coffee Authority, and financed by the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development, the project aims to improve the Ethiopian coffee supply chain through support for small producers and cooperatives for the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices that increase yields, through the transfer of technical skills and agricultural equipment that optimize the post-harvest process, infrastructures that improve quality during the coffee washing phases, through the establishment of quality control laboratories and through the diffusion of modern marketing techniques.

The initiative has created successful cases in two coffee production areas – Sidamo and Bale – and has significantly improved the quality of the coffee that cooperatives can now export, instead of under selling on the local market. In addition, the project benefited from the contribution of illycaffè and the Fondazione Ernesto Illy  with continuous technical support and for the scholarships granted to Ethiopian candidates (six-month Master’s Program in Coffee Economics and Science in Trieste, Italy) giving in this way a significant strengthening of the competitive capabilities of the Ethiopian coffee sector.

The project continues: the identification of the main weakness of the coffee sector in the difficulty of finding specialized personnel leads to the creation of the Addis Ababa Coffee Training Center (CTC): a training center of the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority (ECTA) for the coffee sector, from field agronomists to baristas, based on the model of illycaffè’s Università di Caffè.

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