Author : USDA
Year : 2004
Coffee and chat are Ethiopia’s major cash crops, with coffee cultivation in direct competition with chat, the second major agricultural export. Chat is a mild stimulant harvested from a shrub (Catha edulis), the fresh leaves of which are chewed, and popular in the arid regions of Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, and Somalia. Domestically, chat is a major source of revenue in the southeastern areas of Ethiopia, with the bulk of the crop being ferried daily by air and truck to Djibouti and Somaliland via Harar and Dire Dawa. For farmers it offers far quicker returns on investment than coffee, although much of the sale price accrues to the merchants and distributors.
Ethiopia produces one of the best highland coffees in the world. Its coffee is almost exclusively of the arabica type, which is native to Ethiopia and is the type of coffee produced in Latin America. In contrast, other parts of Africa grow robusta coffee, which typically bears both flowers and fruits simultaneously throughout most of the year, whereas arabica coffee has definite and short harvesting season. Coffee grows best at altitudes between l000 and 2000 meters and it grows wild in many parts of Ethiopia, although most Ethiopian coffee is produced in the southern and western regions of Kefa, Sidamo, Ilubabor, Gamo Gofa, Welega, and Harerge. Coffee area is estimated at about half million hectares, and about 98 percent of all coffee is produced by peasants on smallholdings of less than a hectare, and the remaining two percent is produced by commercial (state and private) farms. Rainfall distribution in tbe southern and eastern parts of the country is bimodal and the western part is monomodal. This distribution pattern enables the country to harvest coffee at different times of the year which makes the supply of fresh coffee possible all year round.