Building the adaptive capacity of female coffee farmers in Jimma, Ethiopia

The effects of climate change are already being felt around the world especially in developing countries. Unfortunately the poor who suffer the greatest burden of these effects have the least capacity to adapt to the rapid change and interestingly the least responsible for its causes.

Coffee production is important to the Ethiopian economy with about 15 million people directly or indirectly deriving their livelihoods from coffee and is also a major Ethiopian export commodity generating more than 25% of Ethiopia’s total export earnings[1]. In Ethiopia like many parts of Africa, women have felt the burden of climate change as their livelihoods and those of the community are highly dependent on natural resources. Climate change is further aggravating the problems and inequalities that women are already facing. A great percentage of the women in the Jimma region are coffee farmers however the Coffee Berry Disease has affected the quality and quantity of this precious commodity, further compromising their economic status.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines adaptation as “... adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects of impacts. This term refers to changes in processes, practices, and structures to moderate potential damages or to benefit from opportunities associated with climate change.” Source IPCC, 2001.The CHIESA Project through its agenda on “Elaboration of adaptation strategies” builds the adaptive capacity of communities in the study areas through training; capacity building and information sharing to reduce their vulnerability and also improve food security. A group of twenty women from the Jimma zone, one of the major coffee producing areas in the Oromia Regional State of Ethiopia, underwent training on coffee nursery establishment and management for the CBD-resistant coffee variety which has been developed specifically for the region by The Jimma Agricultural Research Center. The training was done in the local Oromifa language by one of the CHIESA scholars Weyessa Garedew currently researching on the coffee berry disease in the Jimma region.


Participants during the theory sessions

The participants had a theory and practical session which covered in detail:

  • Seed preparation: How to collect high quality seeds from the mother trees and prepare them for planting.
  • Nursery site preparation: the ground should be flat or gently sloping with soil depth of at least 1m to allow for prolific root development and free from pests and diseases. The bed should be 1m to 1.2 m wide to allow for easy weeding and watering of the seedlings while the length is determined by the availability of the land.
  • Soil preparation: Forest soil is the most recommended medium for coffee seed preparation, however in the absence of the forest soil a mixture of top soil, compost and sand in 6:2:1 ratio can be used as an alternative. The compost is for improving the soil productivity and the sand to improve drainage. This mixture is then put in polythene bags that are open on both ends for easy drainage.
  • Post-sowing care: On when to water the seedlings and apply mulch to conserve the soil moisture and what types of shade to fix on the seedlings..
  • Hardening of the seedling and transplanting: The seedlings are hardened by reducing the amount of water they receive and removing the shade two months before transplanting is carried out.


Field sessions that included practical demonstration on how to prepare the seed and plant it in the nursery and question and answer session

For more information on coffee nursery establishment, please read the document prepared by Weyessa Garedew of CHIESA/Jimma University here


           "One of the challenges that female farmers in Jimma face is the lack of knowledge on new and advanced methods of farming. From this training I have learnt that I can rear coffee   seedlings in a small space and sell them to other farmers. It was also good to learn that there is a new breed of coffee that is resistant to the Coffee Berry Disease."

           Alemitu Dega 25, Participant from Satema area













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Cover Photo Novembwe December