Coffee farmers in the Wonago district of southern
Ethiopia grow the internationally recognized brand coffee, Yirgachefe. Compared to farmers in the rest of Ethiopia, growers
here usually live a better life.
Although Berhanu Atara and his family in Gedeo may only get a fraction
of the international price of the coffee they grow, they make a meager but
However, the past two crop seasons had been rough for
Berhanu's family. Lack of rainfall killed their flowering coffee fruits. Adding
to that, people all over the world are cutting back on their coffee consumption
due to the global economic meltdown.
"The coffee plants flowered on both coping seasons,
but due to lack of rain, the flowers failed to give fruits," Berhanu said. "We
can barely feed our families now."
Berhanu has three children. His wife says some
neighbors with more than eight children are starving.
Abraham Astatke of the Gedeo zone rural development
bureau says farmers are suffering from the combined effect of drought and the
falling price of coffee. Adding to that, farmers in Wonago have big family
"This district is densely populated. As many as 140 people live in one
square kilometer," Abraham said. "The combination of all these factors has
exasperated the situation. For the first time, in Wonago we are distributing
food aid to farmers who had always been self-sufficient."(Click
on audio link to the right to listen to the full story)