Ethiopia, Sidama Agroforestry Project: certification update

Sidama Agroforestry Project ran its last review from Ecocert before validation of the project under the Reforestation and Solidarity standard*. This multi-component project with small-scale coffee farmers allowed more than 225,000 trees to be planted between 2015 and 2016.

The project is located in the Sidama Zone in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ (SNPP) Region, one of the major coffee growing areas in Ethiopia and more precisely in Wonsho Woreda, which remains one of the most deforested area of the country. The region is highly threatened by unsustainable agricultural practices, illegal timber logging and sales, and use of firewood. Most of the farmers rely on coffee production for their living, but live below the poverty line.

The project area is in a hilly region between the Ethiopian Central Plateau and Southern Lowlands. Coffee is mostly grown in full-sun on steep hills, what generates severe erosion and landslides. Little densification of coffee plots added to poor agricultural management practices lead to low coffee yields and income. Furthermore, effects of climate change are already noticeable (heavy droughts, irregular rains), thus all the more impacting coffee yields and quality. Moreover, as timber has been identified as efficient source of revenue and is widely used for construction or fuelwood, it is a high priority to help local population to produce sustainable and diversified timber.

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The Sidama project with the Bokasso cooperative aims at regenerating and preserving forestry ecosystems by planting trees around and inside coffee plots (agroforestry). The Bokasso cooperative is part of the Sidama Union of coffee producers. The cooperative members are small-scale farmers with an average surface area of one ha, and are organic and FLO certified. The project helps to increase resilience to climate change, to preserve water resources and soils, to reduce erosion, and therefore to ensure optimal growing conditions. Agroforestry trees will provide food for the community (fruit trees), fuelwood, environmental benefits (carbon sequestration, increase in soil quality and water hold capacity) while increasing coffee yields and quality, and ensuring its long-term availability. The project also includes the development of self-reliance activities to diversify incomes and ensure food security for communities, thanks to the support of the Louis Dreyfus Foundation.

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In 2016, additional activities were developed with coffee farmers in order to increase food security, improve coffee production and health. Vegetable gardens were implemented on farmers’ lands, farmers received trainings on coffee management as well as coffee seedlings to densify their plot, and an improved cookstoves pilot was launched with the technical support of French NGO GERES and financial support of Louis Dreyfus Foundation.

* Reforestation and solidarity Ecocert standard’s objective is to define a framework for the implementation, monitoring, assessment and verification of cooperative reforestation and sustainable agroforestry projects. It concerns everybody involved in small forest-based projects and ensures that requirements are met: real social, economic and environmental aspect to the project, cash flow transparency, compliance with the specific and contractual requirements of each project, effectiveness of the project, long-term future of the project, estimation of carbon sequestration.

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