Coffee exports earned Ethiopia US$525 last year, about one-third of its total revenue from exports. Now, in attempts to see more of that money channeled to farmers and to help boost bean quality, coffee is being traded on the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECE).
In theory, the move, which enjoys government support, will replaces the middleman-oriented informal trade arrangements that existed up to now, and farmers should now benefit economically through having direct access to current market prices.
ECE has already established a warehouse network for coffee beans, and the government is pinning its hopes on the new electronic exchange system's ability to help thwart malpractices such as falsely upgrading bean origins to attract a higher price.
Although the largest growers and co-operatives will be able to continue to sell directly to the global coffee firms, everyone else will have to use the electronic exchange.
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