Ethiopia to trade specialty coffee locally

Ethiopian Coffee
Ethiopian Coffee

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia plans to move the trade in its specialty coffee to an Addis Ababa-based commodities exchange instead of the current channel of selling the beans at auctions overseas, a senior trade official said.

Eleni Gebre-Madhin, Chief Executive Officer at the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) said up to 30 percent of the country’s produce is classified as specialty beans but that higher prices for the fine coffees were not trickling down to farmers.

“The initiative positions Ethiopia to have perhaps the only domestic marketing system in the world for discovering and trading specialty coffee at the arrival stage, thus benefiting the farmers who produce these coffees, rather than at the export end of the chain,” she said.

Ethiopia, which prides itself as the birthplace of coffee, opened talks with key players in the global specialty coffee industry on Wednesday on how best to handle the trading of premium brands.

“Ethiopia has a natural advantage to exploit its resources for the benefit of its people and we shall strive to generate more income for the benefit of the country,” Eleni added.

Ethiopia is Africa’s biggest producer with an annual average output of 330,000 tonnes. It expects a bumper harvest, 20-30 percent above the usual crop, this year (2009/10).

The ECX was set up in 2008 to replace a murky auction system that was often abused by market players.

Ethiopia, Africa’s largest coffee producer, earned $376 million from coffee export in 2008/09 compared with $525 million in 2007/08.