Iowa Public Television


Starbucks Opening Ethiopia Farmer Center

posted on November 30, 2007

SEATTLE (AP) — Starbucks Corp. plans to open a farmer support center in Ethiopia's capital next year to help growers improve the quality of their coffee crops and boost production using sustainable practices.

The world's largest specialty coffee retailer, which opened a similar center in Costa Rica three years ago, said the one in Addis Ababa would be the first of its kind in Africa.

Starbucks has not set a date for opening the new center. At a February conference in Addis Ababa, executives said it was expected to open in 2007, but on Wednesday, Starbucks spokeswoman Stacey Krum said the company was still scouting possible sites.

The center's goals will include getting more farmers to take part in a program that grades them on such things as how well they shade their coffee trees and how much they pay their workers. High grades can win growers higher prices, longer-term contracts and other incentives from Starbucks.

East African farmers grow about half the world's specialty coffee, and most growers live in poverty. Producers have increasingly sought to brand their coffee in hopes of winning higher prices.

Tags: Africa agriculture coffee crops Ethiopia farmers news