Nigat, BMZ and PfefferminzGreen: a Coffee Project Wogdie, Ethiopia

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Emphasizing the strengths of local communities and building on their existing knowledge are crucial aspects in developing sustainable solutions and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) step by step.

In 2016, communities near the remote town of Wogdie, northern Ethiopia, came together with Bezalign Arega, Director of our local partner organization Nigat, to present their concepts and ideas for creating secure incomes and ways of being able to provide for their families. With one of the main sources of earnings in the region surrounding Wogdie being coffee cultivation, hundreds of coffee farmers formed a registered coffee association and have worked together as a collective ever since. Challenges such as a lack of water resources, a shortage of agricultural machinery and a need to plant more seedlings meant that their farms were previously unable to yield a harvest large enough to provide them with sufficient income. With the support of Bezalign, the coffee farmers created a project proposal containing everything that was required in order to improve the cultivation of their coffee beans. On the basis of the proposal, PfefferminzGreen applied for a grant from the Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ), or Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, which was approved in 2017. This partnership with the BMZ allowed PfefferminzGreen to offer the Coffee Association in Wogdie financial support to make much-needed improvements to their coffee farms.

This first BMZ project in 2017, led entirely by local coffee farmers, was a huge success. It created the incentive to apply for a second grant and in 2020, PfefferminzGreen and Nigat, with the support of the BMZ, were able to provide financial backing to a neighboring coffee plantation in the Wogdie region. This meant that even more farmers were offered the opportunity to generate self-sufficient income for themselves and their families and also create jobs for local unemployed youth. An entire community of 1500 coffee farmers, their families and numerous unemployed teenagers have been able to independently and substantially increase their annual harvest of coffee, vegetables and fruit.

Today, Nigat continues to educate local farmers from both coffee farms on how to cultivate the coffee plants more efficiently, improve their water supplies to the plantations, and expand their acreages. In order to streamline work processes, concrete walkways and water canals have been put in place to prevent the loss of water, and one water reservoir has been fixed and a new one constructed, significantly improving and simplifying the water supply from a nearby river. The existing coffee plantations were cut back and new ones grown from seed. Mango, avocado and lemon trees were also planted, fulfilling two important purposes: to provide shade for the coffee plants and to guarantee biodiversity. 

In order to broaden their knowledge, Nigat has also trained the farmers on a variety of subjects from literacy and finance to nutrition, hygiene and health. Through specific coffee-focused workshops, the farmers have also been given the opportunity to learn more about topics such as farming, storage and increasing production.

We are thrilled to have witnessed the success of these projects and the positive effects they have had on all those involved. Our community-based development (CBD) approach has included countless families in the Wogdie region, ensuring they have the means to support themselves sustainably – and with confidence. PfefferminzGreen is extremely proud of and thankful for their work with Nigat on this highly sustainable project and we are looking forward to supporting new local initiatives in the future.

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