ETHIOPIA- Global commodities trading company Louis Dreyfus Company is celebrating its 10th year of organically producing coffee in Ethiopia – a decade in which its coffee origination program has grown exponentially in volume and value, focusing on specialty coffees.
LDC holds the coffee that grows in Ethiopia in high regard and has witnessed its growing worldwide demand during its tenure in the country for the last decade.
“The coffee grown here in Ethiopia is special because of its wide variety of flavor profiles, which are specific to the country’s different sourcing locations or regions,” says Mubarik Abaoli Ababor, our local Quality Manager and Specialty Coffee Sourcing Coordinator.
“It often has complex taste nuances, a light to medium body, and a pleasingly strong acidity, and the different profiles can variously be described as winey, spicy, floral, mocha, fruity, chocolaty, herbal, sweet, and exotic.”
According to Mubarak, more than 90% of Ethiopian coffee is produced organically, and the country’s wet coffee processing waste management policy has increased natural specialty coffee production.
Sustainable production informs LDC’s activities
LDC has been investing in the sustainable production of coffee, ensuring that its activities do not contribute to deforestation and climate change.
According to the company, despite Ethiopia being the world’s fifth-largest coffee producer and Africa’s top producer, local smallholder coffee farmers suffer from unpredictable harvests and soil degradation caused by deforestation and climate change.
To address these issues, LDC, the Louis Dreyfus Foundation, and PUR started a project in 2014, aiming to regenerate the coffee landscape in collaboration with coffee-grower communities through nature-based solutions, such as agroforestry.
“Through agroforestry, the use of shade trees in organic farming has helped greatly to control deforestation,” says Mubarik.
Additionally, LDC commits to planting native and naturalized tree species in coffee plots – including various fruit tree species –to protect crops from the sun, help diversify farmers’ revenues, reduce soil erosion, retain water, and preserve soil quality.
According to LDC, by the end of 2022, this project had planted 279,000 trees as part of agroforestry activities and distributed around 200,000 new coffee plants.
Moreover, from 2023-2024, the project will plant 50,000 additional trees, distribute 25,000 more coffee seedlings and provide training to around 3,000 farmers in the country, including additional gender training for community members.
The project will also offer support and coaching to small businesses established by women to create new business opportunities in coffee-growing areas and promote women’s empowerment.
LDC invests in training farmers
Additionally, since 2019, LDC has worked with Strauss Coffee and PUR to train more than 1,200 Ethiopian coffee farmers in good agricultural practices (GAPs) that benefit the environment and also improve farmers’ livelihoods by increasing their productivity and yields sustainably.
“LDC’s sustainability managers have been delivering GAPs training to smallholder coffee farmers in Southern Ethiopia since 2019. They also distribute coffee seedlings to help regenerate coffee production systems, following up on the development of the seedlings during field visits,” Helen Daniel, LDC’s Logistics Manager in Ethiopia, says.
In addition, earlier this year, Inter Aide, a humanitarian organization, launched a new project in Ethiopia in collaboration with the Louis Dreyfus Foundation and LDC, helping 1,500 farming families to incorporate food crops such as legumes and vegetables, as well as shrubs and trees, into their coffee systems to enhance food production and increase incomes.
In celebration of a decade of activities in Ethiopia, Mubarik remarks that coffee is not just a business. It is a passion, and once someone enters the industry, it’s difficult to leave.
“We look forward to shaping the next decade in Ethiopia so that it’s as dynamic, progressive, and rewarding as the first!” Mubarik comments.