Last year the Ethiopian government filed applications to trademark its most famous coffee names, Sidamo, Harar and Yirgacheffe. Securing the rights to these names would enable Ethiopia to capture more value from the trade, by controlling their use in the market and thereby enabling farmers to receive a greater share of the retail price. Ethiopia’s coffee industry and farmers could earn an estimated $88 million (USD) extra per year.
Over the course of the last week, Oxfam has spoken out publicly regarding Starbucks’ opposition to the Ethiopia’s trademarking project.
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Ethiopia’s motivations for this project are clear:
• Coffee makes up 40-50% of Ethiopia’s export income;
• 15 million Ethiopians are dependent on the coffee trade;
• One in four people live on less than $1 a day and 80% of its people live on less than $2 a day; and
• Ethiopia ranks in the bottom 10 of the UN human development index of income, health and education.
In a statement released yesterday, Starbucks called on Oxfam to end its campaign.
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In the same statement, Starbucks claimed the trademarking initiative might hurt farmers if “roasters stop purchasing Ethiopian coffees.” The suggestion that Ethiopia’s request for Starbucks and other companies to recognize the country’s rights to its coffee names could result in punishment suggests an unwillingness to work in true partnership with farmers.
See Rosemary Ekosso's comments on the situation at Enanga's POV