In 2010 the Kaffa region was declared the first UNESCO biosphere reserve in Ethiopia. Now, what did this news mean for the 13,507+ households of the Kafa Farmers’ Union?
First – they were promised the preservation of the rainforest they have called home for generations.
Second – the wild Kaffa coffee they harvested was now protected as well, ensuring a sustainable source of income for their families and communities.
As the deforestation rates rise both in Ethiopia, and across the globe, the goal of our partners, Original Food, is to use Kaffa coffee to prove nature conservation and economic development can be permanently combined.
We believe that creating a system where people, planet, and profit exist in harmony both can and must exist. And we’re proud to say Kaffa coffee doesn’t settle for anything less.
A Tale of People, Planet, & Profit
While many corporations are looking to exploit the Ethiopian rainforest for economic gain, Original Food, had another vision for the birthplace of coffee Arabica. They saw a path where the region’s native, wild coffee could be used to provide economic opportunity for the local community while protecting the rainforest.
For centuries, people in the Kaffa region had been collecting wild coffee, but solely for their own consumption. Original Food worked with both the local population and the government to create the Kafa Farmers’ Union – 24 cooperatives who now hand-pick the purest wild coffee for thousands of people to enjoy worldwide.
To ensure economic flourishing can be achieved, Original Food directly purchases coffee from the farmers at prices significantly higher than world market level – almost double in many years. These prices enable farmers to build lives that would have otherwise been unattainable. Through harvesting wild coffee, they are now able to send their children to school, buy goods they do not produce themselves, and invest back into supporting their local communities.
Currently, Original Food’s wild coffee trade is the most important source of income for almost 150,000 people in Southwest Ethiopia.
What Certification Mean For Farmers
A key step to protecting the livelihood of these farmers was creating the Kaffa UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – the country’s first biosphere reserve in the Kaffa region. This appointment as a UNESCO biosphere reserve not only provides protection for the heavily threatened rainforests, but also creates opportunity for further development of the region.
Additionally, since the first harvest over 10 years ago, Kaffa coffee has been certified Fairtrade as well as for social sustainability. And of course, our commitment doesn’t end when the minimum requirements for certification are reached. Rather, our partners invest in drying beds, warehouse construction, forest protection measures, etc. for the farmers.
To provide the most opportunity possible for the producers, Original Food bears the costs for all certifications and seals from the start, so there are no additional startup costs for farmers. In turn, these certifications ensure farmers fair treatment, access to opportunity, and the ability to command a much higher producer price for their coffee.
Creating Change With Each Cup
Since 2004, we are proud to say that 150,000+ people in the Kaffa region have already benefited from the project and the number only continues to rise. While Kaffa coffee has been enjoyed in Europe, Simplify Healthy Living is thrilled to be the first retail partner to bring the precious coffee to North America and further expand its positive impact. With each purchase of Kaffa coffee you help protect the rainforest as well as provide economic opportunity to thousands of people who call the rainforest home. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for creating change with every cup and building a brighter world for generations to come.