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The Perfect Coffee Growing Environment in Ethiopia

The potential of coffee production in Ethiopia is very high as a result of altitude, ample rainfall, optimum temperature, suitable planting material as well as fertile soil. Furthermore, the country is of particular value to the world as it is the home or the origin of C. Arabica with best inherent quality and production potential. The total area covered by coffee is approximately 400,000 hectares, producing a total of production of roughly 250,000 tons per annum and 25 million people depend on it.

Altitude

In Ethiopia, coffee is grown at various altitudes ranging from 550-2750 meters above sea level. However, the bulk of C. arabica is produced in the Eastern, Southern and Western parts of the country with altitudes ranging between l300-1800 meters.

Rainfall

The annual rainfall in the coffee growing regions of the country varies between 1500 and 2500 mm. However in the Eastern part of the country, the rainfall decreases to 1000 mm per annum where it is supplemented with irrigation. It is not only the rainfall amount which contributes to higher production, but also its distribution over eight months. Rainfall distribution in tbe Southern and Eastern part of the country is bimodal and the Western part is monomodal. This distribution pattern enables the country to harvest coffee at different times of the year which makes the supply of fresh coffee possible all year round.

Temperature

C. arabica grows best in a temperate, shady environment in the forests of the Ethiopian highlands. The ideal temperature for C. arabica is considered to be l5c-25c. This temperature prevails in most coffee growing areas of Ethiopia.

Planting Material

Because the country is the source of C. Arabica, there is a wide variety of characteristics to be found: disease resistance, high yield, and high quality. This is nature's gift to Ethiopia in particular and to the world in general.

Soils

The soil in the Southern and Western part of the coffee growing regions of Ethiopia is of volcanic origin with the high nutrient holding capacity of clay minerals. All the coffee growing regions have fertile, friable loamy soil with more than 1.5m of depth. The top soil is predominantly dark brownish in color with a slightly sour pH. One peculiar thing about the soil is that its fertility is maintained by organic recycling. Enough organic material is added to the soil through litter fall, pruning and root residue from the perennial coffee trees.

Furthermore, the small coffee farmers, who are the major producers, use organic fertilisers to supplement the natural fertility of the soil. Moreover, as close to 50% of the natural production is consumed locally, representing the highest national consumption in any producing country, local consumers insist on top quality and would never accept the use of chemical inputs. Most buyers know that the bulk of coffee produced in Ehtiopia qualifies itself as organic.

 

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Last updated: 02/08/02.


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