As preparations are underway to hold the third cup of excellence by the beginning of the upcoming year, officials at the Ethiopian Coffee & Tea Authority proposed for the introduction of a stringent rule that only allows farmers participate in cup of excellence events.
Authorities pledge to enforce the global practice that gives only coffee growers the right to participate in cup of excellence events. It is a move expected to encourage small-holder farmers and boost their income from specialty coffee products.
This is likely to lead to the prohibition of suppliers and exporters from the competition, against the trend observed in the previous two rounds.
The last two rounds of the cup of excellence saw the registration of 3,300 coffee samples for the competition. During the latest cup of excellence, Tamiru Tadesse Tesema, a coffee supplier from the Bensa zone in the Sidama region, was the winner, with a score of 90.06 points out of a potential 100. He sold 1,140 kilograms of coffee for over 14,000 Birr a kilogram.
Applauding the market opportunity created by the last two rounds, Mohammed Shemsu, Head of the Office for the Director of the Authority, admitted there have been gaps during selection of competitors. Though the International rule does not allow exporters, suppliers, and industrial owners to compete on behalf of farmers, they were participating one way or another, according to Mohammed, who is also a member of the specialty coffee competition Committee.
“It is necessary to improve procedures and rules to ensure that only coffee growers would participate in the competition,” said Mohammed.
Adugna Debela (Ph.D.), Director-General of the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority, for his part, highlighted the contribution of the competition to the expansion of Ethiopian coffee market access and its role in increasing the number of Ethiopian coffee destinations.
Previously, he pointed out, South Korea and China had small stakes in Ethiopia’s coffee destinations but their share is increasing because of the competition. Similar trends have been observed with Mexico, which is showing an interest to buy coffee from Ethiopia, he added.
The first round of cup of excellence was almost fully sponsored by a non-governmental organization, while the Authority was the leading player in the second round. The third round is expected to be fully handled by the authority in cooperation with associations that work on coffee. The duo had a joint discussion on how to conduct the competition and reached consensus for the establishment of a separate office that organizes the competition.
“The plan is to eventually fully transfer the duty of organizing the competition to the new association under formation following the mergers of seven other interest groups working in the coffee sector,” Adugna said.