ADDIS ABABA, Jan 12 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s coffee growers’ association predicted on Monday a near-doubling of annual output to 600,000 tonnes by 2014 thanks to new investment for plantations in Africa’s largest producer of the bean.
Ashenafi Mamo, chairman of the Ethiopian Coffee Growers, Producers and Exporters Association (ECGPEA), told Reuters 61 Ethiopian investors with an aggregate capital of $150 million were launching new plantations.
“Coffee production on these plantations covering 35,000 hectares of land in Oromia, and the Southern region, is expected to double the country’s annual coffee output to 600,000 tonnes from the current 330,000 tonnes by 2014,” he said.
Coffee yields its first beans five years after planting.
Ashenafi said only organic fertilisers and compost produced locally would be used in the new plantations.
With modern techniques and trained personnel, production per hectare on those plantations should reach 1.4 tonnes, compared with 0.4 tonnes on smallholder, peasant farms.
“Our aim is not only to increase the volume of coffee the country is producing, but also to produce some of the world’s finest beans for which Ethiopia is renowned,” he said.
The Horn of Africa country prides itself as the origin of coffee. Its beans are grown in the misty forested highlands of southwestern Ethiopia in a region known as Kaffa which legend says gave its name to the plant.
Ethiopia earned $525 million from exporting 170,888 tonnes in the 2007/08 season, and hopes to earn $800 million from 224,831 of exports this year, according to the Trade Ministry. (Reporting by Tsegaye Tadesse; editing by James Jukwey)