Damota Wolayta Union coffee export increased even during COVID-19 period


ETHIOPIA - Due to a networking and marketing training provided by Agriterra, Damota union was able to increase export by 125%. Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, the union has a lot of confidence in the future and aims to increase export even further and purchase its own dry coffee processing facilities.

Damota Wolayta Farmers’ Cooperative Union Ltd (Damota) is one of Agriterra’s coffee clients. Damota is a multi-purpose agricultural union with more than 24.000 farmer members. Firstly, the union collects red haricot bean, wheat, teff and coffee from the Primary Cooperatives (PC’s) for collective sales and marketing. Secondly, it supplies different agricultural supplies (fertilizer, seeds). Thirdly, it is involved in animal feed production activities.  These activities are carried out by 42 employees. 

Agriterra provides workshop in preparation for coffee conference

In 2015, the union started to export Arabica coffee to Europe, the USA and Japan. The Union has an organic certification and all the exported coffee is certified. As the union wanted to increase its coffee sales by finding more buyers, Agriterra asked the union general manager and export manager to participate in the African Fine Coffees Conference & Exhibition at the beginning of 2020.
Before this event, the union participants received a training from Agriterra about how to do matchmaking and promote their products to the international buyers.
After the workshop and conference, the union participants had:
  • good knowledge and skills about how to promote their products
  • collected 5-6 potential buyer’s business cards; later they contacted them about future business opportunities
  • better information about world-wide coffee prices and production
  • good information about how to improve coffee quality
  • got invited for a dinner by one of the union main buyers. This created room for the union to improve its image at an international level

Export of Arabica coffee increased

The past 4 years, the union exported a maximum of 4 containers per year. After the workshop and conference, the union already exported 9 containers of coffee to European and American markets, which resulted in a revenue of 911.731 USD and a profit of more than 97.000 USD. The union is very happy with this achievement and motivated to increase its sales in the coming year. In addition, the union has the ambition to own dry coffee processing facilities in the coming two years. This will improve its export business.

Challenges of COVID-19 restrictions

One of the aims of Ethiopian policies on supporting cooperatives is to strengthen their members’ agricultural produce marketing activities. Most cooperatives in Ethiopia are multi-purpose. This means they provide services to member farmers, supply agricultural inputs (seeds and fertilizer) and sell farm products.  Supplying agricultural inputs are not impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the union animal feed business and the union output marketing of different crops have been impacted, because the demand for diary products has decreased. 

The other main disruptions were transportation price increase, limited crop supply from member farmers, increase of raw materials for animal feed and sometimes shortages, government restrictions measures, and the ability of management and board to do their daily routines. On the other hand, the union sold COVID-19 preventive materials (alcohol, sanitizer, and masks) to the community to gain extra income.

Overall, the union is not negatively impacted by the pandemic. Focussing on mulitple business activities has helped to compensate the loss of a part of the income due to COVID-19. 

Ethiopia is the motherland of Coffee Arabica. It is is the largest coffee producer in Africa and the fifth largest producer in the world. It accounts for 4.2% of the global coffee production and for 29% of the African coffee trade.

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