Coffee is the most important export commodity of Ethiopia. Coffee Arabica, which originated in Ethiopia, has been grown for centuries way before any other part of the world. It is not surprising, then, that coffee is the most important commercial crop in Ethiopia, contributing more than 60 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. It is also estimated that nearly 25 percent of the Ethiopian people depend, directly or indirectly, on coffee for their livelihood.
Since time immemorial, Coffee Arabica has been grown in the wild forests of the south-western highlands (Kaffa Buno districts) of the country. Ethiopia is the primary centre and origin of the Arabica coffee plant; earlier known as Jasminum arabicum laurifolia. The genetic diversity of the plant which has the wildest range in Ethiopia proves this point.
It is considered that the name coffee is derived from the name Kafa, a district in Ethiopia where bean is believed to be originated. The word coffee is already passed into the English lexicon by the year 1700. The French and Spanish call coffee café, the Italian caffe, the German kaffe, the Finnish Khavi, the Dutch Koffie, the Greek Kafes, the Japanese Kohi, the Russians coffee, and so on.
Ethiopia is also the oldest coffee exporter in the world. However, external invasions and internal conflicts at various times impacted the country’s coffee export negatively. The potential for coffee production in Ethiopia is very high due to the country’s coffee producing areas suitable altitude, rainfall, and temperatures, appropriate planting materials and fertile soil. Furthermore, the country is of special interest to the world for it is the origin of Coffee Arabica and has the best quality seeds that are used for blending.
Since the country is the origin of Coffee Arabica, the variability of plant’s character is very wide. This has made possible the abundance of planting materials, which are disease resistant, high yielding, and of top quality. Coffee is nature’s gift to Ethiopia in particular and the world at large and it requires special care and proper utilization.
One outstanding characteristic of the Ethiopian coffee is that the fertility of soil is maintained by organic recycling. Farmers do not use chemical fertilizers but falling leaves, dead plants and manure. In fact, one of the secrets of producing high quality coffee is that farmers have developed an environmental friendly coffee growing culture.
Source: Facts About Ethiopia, 2004