TechnoServe’s Broad Forest Coffee Stumping in Ethiopia
Stumping involves pruning older and less productive trees down to just a stump. This stimulates the growth of new sprouts that develop into new branches within a few months .
It’s a proven technique that results in a 2- to 3-fold increase in yields and a potential tripling of income within three years. By rejuvenating existing trees, stumping reduces the need for farmers to shift to other crops that deplete the soil of nutrients and are often less profitable than coffee. It also produces healthier trees that are better able to withstand pests, disease, and erratic weather that come with a changing climate.Since TechnoServe started its Coffee Farm College, the percentage of farmers in Ethiopia who stump has risen from 1 to 15%. Paul Stewart, TechnoServe’s Global Coffee Director, is hopeful this number will increase as Coffee Farm College, among other initiatives, develops new ways to support farmers while the coffee farmers wait for the 1-3 years for their stumped trees to regenerate.
And in recent years, some of Ethiopia’s high-quality coffees have been selling for over three times the average export price. But productivity is decreasing as Ethiopia is now not the top exporter of coffee bean from Africa replaced by Uganda. And the country’s coffee world market shareis lagging behind other major leading coffee-producing countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Lack of pruning is identified as the problem causing the decline in yield. Almost 80% of Ethiopia’s 1 million hectares of coffee trees are underproductive because the trees are not trimmed often enough.
More than 2 million smallholder farmers are dependent on small scale coffee farms. Most of these farms are located at slowly declining highland forest plateau. The government’s policy ofincreasing coffee plantations driven by low productivity is degrading forest land.
TechnoServe has achieved training about 200,000 farmers through its Coffee Farm College. But with 2 million coffee farming households in the country, Stewart says TechnoServe needs help to scale up the program and reach many more farmers.
The World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (ISFL) launched an innovative private sector strategy in Ethiopia’s Oromia region in 2020 that includes funding to support coffee stumping training and income compensation for farmers. The new strategy builds on existing World Bank initiatives in Ethiopia and leverages several sources of new investment, including funds from the private sector, as well as additional donor funding.
“We know that stumping is a key part of the mix in achieving our goals of reducing forest emissions in Oromia while also dramatically increasing farmers’ incomes.” says ISFL Fund Manager, Roy Parizat.
“Ethiopia has perfect soil and climate conditions to grow high quality coffee with no chemical fertilizers needed. Systematic training of Ethiopia’s smallholder farmers is the best way to tap into these natural advantages,” Stewart added.
“Training farmers on how to increase their incomes on the land they already use is a really effective way to decrease encroachment on forested areas,” says Parizat. “It is also great for coffee drinkers around the world who will hopefully enjoy more high-quality Ethiopian coffees.”