Ethiopian farmers are under threat as a result of globalization. Starbucks, a US firm, says it is now recognizing the national trademarks for indigenous producers.
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The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa)
30 November 2007
Ethiopia and world coffee giant Starbucks said on Wednesday they were determined to strengthen partnership with the view to making Ethiopia a leading force in the global specialty coffee marketplace.
This was disclosed at a joint press conference held following discussions between Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and visiting Starbucks Corporation Chairman Howard Shultz.
Prime Minister Meles and Mr. Schultz said their discussions reflected a deepening relationship between Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, and Starbucks, one of the world's largest specialty coffee companies.
They said they worked out ways to expand the branding and marketing of Ethiopia's world-renowned fine coffees in order to achieve better prices for farmers and improved opportunities for the millions of Ethiopians who depend on coffee for their livelihood.
"We will be working closely with Starbucks to bring badly needed investment and technology to our coffee industry, as well as brand recognition and promotion for our high-grade Arabica beans," Meles told reporters at his office immediately after his discussions with high level delegation led by Chairman Shultz.
"These measures will afford Ethiopia new leverage in the global coffee market. I am extremely encouraged that Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz shares our belief in a bright future for Ethiopia's coffee economy," the Premier added.
Schultz on his part said his company would open a Starbucks Farmer Support Center in Addis Ababa in 2008.
To be the first in Africa, the soon-to-be established centre aims to enable the company to work collaboratively with Ethiopian farmers to raise both the quality and production of the country's high quality specialty coffees.
The Farmer Support Centre will also provide resources and ongoing support to coffee communities with the goal of improving coffee quality and growing practices and increasing the number of farmers participating in the Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, Starbucks' sustainable coffee buying guidelines.
After lengthy wrangling with the Ethiopian government over trademark, Starbucks earlier this year signed a distribution, marketing and licensing agreement with Ethiopia and agreed to assist in expanding consumer awareness of Ethiopia's famed coffee brands- Sidamo, Harar/Harrar and Yirgacheffe.
The joint press briefing was followed by a roundtable discussion among the visiting Starbucks officials and government officials, coffee farmers, exporters and other coffee stakeholders yesterday where they shared ideas on how to strengthen the partnership and improve the Ethiopian coffee industry.
Later in the day, Schultz is expected to address leaders of the Ethiopian business community and young entrepreneurs.
Between 2002 and 2006, Starbucks increased its Ethiopian coffee purchases by nearly 400 percent.
Today, Ethiopian coffee can be found in nearly all of Starbucks' U.S. stores. In 2008 Starbucks plans to intensify its promotion of Ethiopian coffees.
Other Starbaucks senior officers accompanying Shultz are: Cliff Burrows, President Starbucks EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Dub Hay, Starbucks senior vice president of Coffee & Global Procurement, and Sandra Taylor, Starbucks senior vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility.