The Japanese ambassador to Ethiopia, Kinichi Komano, last week refuted allegations that his country had banned the import of Ethiopian coffee.
“That is not true,” Komano told The Reporter last week, defending his country’s rigorous method of inspecting import goods especially food items.
He said that, last year, pesticides had been detected in the consignment of Ethiopian coffee that was exported to Japan.
The authorities then ordered to put every Ethiopian coffee consignment into obligatory inspection, according to Komano.
“The law says that if there were more than a certain number of cases of contamination, every consignment should be put into obligatory inspection”, the ambassador explained.
Komano said that since April, last year, there had been many consignments where pesticide was detected.
He pointed out that Ethiopian coffee was still coming to Japan but in limited amount as Japanese importers and roasters try to avoid additional risks.
“If the coffee they import is contaminated, they might lose some money because they can’t sell it in the market,” he added.
Since the Japanese authorities implemented the obligatory inspection, the volume of Ethiopian coffee entering the Japanese market declined sharply, resulting in the loss of 20 percent of Ethiopia’s coffee export.
A team of experts sent by the Japanese coffee importers association to Ethiopia had tried to identify the cause of the problem.
Although they took samples of coffee beans from farms, transportation trucks, warehouses, auction centers and port of Djibouti for inspection, they couldn’t identify the exact cause of the contamination.
The experts have concluded that contamination might have been caused by coffee bags which have been put to use many times, Komano said.
An inspection by the government reached a similar conclusion and now the government has banned the use of old bags.