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Ethiopian Coffee and the Internet

ecafe.jpgBy using an Internet-based auction for the first time, Ethiopian coffee growers received more than double their usual price for coffee -- and one bid was more than triple what the growers had received in the past. The auction was sponsored by the Ecafé Foundation, a non-profit organization providing education and support for coffee-growing communities around the world. Ecafé, in turn, is supported by the Dutch trading firm Trabocca BV and the US coffee importer BD Imports.

"Because of your support, the Ecafe auction generated more than $187,000 for Ethiopian cooperative coffee at an average price of $3.22 per pound," [Ecafé President Willem] Boot wrote in a letter thanking auction bidders. [...]

The highest bid received $6.50 per pound for Ethiopia's top-grade coffee from Yirgacheffe. The lowest winning bid was tendered at $1.82 per pound, Boot said.

Ethiopian coffee normally fetches an average of $1.30 a pound in normal markets .[...]

Four unions of 151 coffee cooperatives, with a total membership of 180,000 individual producers, participated in the auction with the hope of getting a better price for their product.

Ecafé has a page listing the auction results, including the bid histories.

This further underscores the argument that access to global information networks can have an enormously positive result for developing nations. We typically make the point that farmers (and fishermen, etc.) can use information tools to better follow market conditions, but this reminds us that the reverse is also true -- information networks also make global buyers aware of these local growers.

Comments (4)

Gudeta Olana`:

I realy at aapreciated at this website becuase of you were delivering a lots of information about my country Ethiopia.Please keep it up...

Gudeta Olana`:

i realy appreciated at your website because you were delivering a lots of information about my country ethiopia. please keep it up...

lemme take one small issue with your comments here. the web auction didn't allow buyers to discover these sellers.

the coffee co-ops were known to the buyers, who had not only sampled their wares, but in some cases travelled to ethiopia to meet farmers and co-op managers earlier in the year.

the revolution in this auction is that the normally convoluted coffee supply chain was really shortened, letting roasters deal more directly with farmers, which has long been the desire of most specialty roasters.

by cutting out extraneous layers of middlemen, the farmers received more money -- and by having the business done openly, transparently and in a truly competitive way, the farmers and co-ops received the true value of their coffee.

further, roasters were reassured that the market was really a level playing field.

we have to remember that most coffee farmers are still undereducated peasants with less than 5 hectacres. they often live in utterly remote areas without even roads, running water, or electricity. certainly no schools, clinics, etc.

but despite these profound infrastructure disadvantages, once given information on how to improve their coffee quality, information on what buyers and consumers want, and fair access to the global market such as through this revolutionary auction, they are fully able to compete and excel.

Alemayehu S . M:

I would relly like to express my appreciation to you. This is A remarkable achivment from A freind of Ethiopia. You Ethiopian in the Diasphora, what would you say? rather than preaching hatred and violnce please,do something psitive


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