Oct 11, 2005 (ADDIS ABABA) — Ethiopia’s biggest coffee cooperative union said on Tuesday it expects to start discussions in December with Nestle for higher prices for its beans under a Fairtrade system.
Desalenge Jena, the deputy manager of Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperatives, said a representative of Nestle recently visited one of its cooperatives in the south of the country to assess the situation.
“We expect officials from Nestle in December to discuss coffee purchase procedures under fair trade,” Desalenge said.
Oromia represents over 70,000 peasant farmers who produce high quality arabica coffee. Ethiopia is Africa’s biggest producer of coffee.
Desalenge said Oromia Coffee Cooperatives Union had exported a total of 1,871 tonnes of premium coffee under fair trade system to Europe, the United States, Australia and Japan and earned a total of $5.7 million in 2005.
Officials said on Friday Fairtrade coffee, which up to now has mostly been marketed by small groups trying to give impoverished farmers a bigger cut of the pie than food giants like Nestle, would land in British supermarkets with the Nestle brand in two week’s time.
The “Partners Blend” instant coffee made from Arabica grown by smallholders in El Salvador and Ethiopia will have the Fairtrade certification guaranteeing certain developmental, employment and environmental standards and a premium paid for the farming community.
Coffee farmers are just emerging from a crisis caused by oversupply and a slump in prices to a 30-year low in 2001.
With Fairtrade they are protected from the fluctuations in the world market by a minimum price of 121 cents a pound plus a 5-cent premium. Arabica currently trades.