A brief update on the current Ethiopia harvest (2015/16)
The Harvest So Far
- Our partners report that coffee has arrived late to the wet mills due to late rains or in some areas, no rain at all. The current lack of rain is expected to be one of the worst droughts in Ethiopia. Some believe it will be even worse than the one that affected the country back in the 1980s.
- With the rains coming late, cherry maturity has been delayed, meaning that in most areas picking began just three weeks ago.
- Coffee cherry quality seems to be good overall so far.
- The prices being offered for coffee cherries in most of Ethiopia have started at an average level but has slowly been climbing in most areas, especially in the Yirgachefe region, which has been the case for the last several years.
- Coffee has arrived to the auction with high prices that have managed to sell. We are not sure if the market can pay the fair price given the Cost of Coffee here Locally. But the usual Exporters that use the FX to Import, as the ones pulling the market lower.
Changes at the ECX
- Electronic tagging (geotagging) is supposed to be rolling out this season so that every bag sold through the auction will come with a barcode that will provide traceability up to the washing station it came from.
The hope for this new system is to create a more accessible system for purchasing. For the last 8 years only unions and coops have been able to provide traceability to the international buyers, severely inhibiting transparency for many buyers of Ethiopian coffee.
- Coffee, as a commodity, has officially left the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Trade and is now headed by a new Coffee & Tea Authority under the umbrella of the Ministry of Agriculture. This means that coffee will have ONE authority which is significant, as over the last 8 years several conflicting institutions oversaw the coffee sector, which created many delays in the process of exporting and more. Let’s hope that this more unified/simplified body will lead to easier export processes!
- The ECX is also planning an online purchasing system. Aside from the inevitable delays from implementing such a system, this is a very positive change for exporters. Previously, it was very difficult to stop private agreements between sellers and exporters. Now, hopefully, the best quality will be equally available to all buyers.
While all of these changes are positive they will certainly present their own challenges and frustrations. Luckily the general trend is moving in positive directions. Even if the above is implemented in fits and starts.