Meet Mabraat, the coffee farmer building climate resilience in Ethiopia

Mabraat is a coffee farmer from Oromia, Ethiopia, who lives with her husband and children. Families like Mabraat’s have been farming coffee for over 1000 years. Today, it continues to be powered by the people, with nearly 95% of the coffee produced in Ethiopia being grown on small-scale farms. 

Unfortunately, our changing climate is not making life any easier. Coffee production is highly sensitive to the weather. Rising temperatures, erratic rainfall, deforestation and drought has been impacting coffee crops around the country. 

By 2050, usable land for growing coffee in the country is expected to halve. 

Heavily reliant on the land, small-scale farmers often lack the savings needed to weather a bad crop and can find themselves in financial ruin. This is made worse by coffee farmers rarely being paid a living wage for their work. 

If current trends continue, not only could coffee become a scarce commodity, millions of farmers like Mabraat and their families could have their livelihoods upended. The stakes couldn't be higher, or more urgent. 

The old way of cooking made lots of smoke. It harms our family, causes headaches and eye irritations.

Mabraat, coffee farmer, Oromia, Ethiopia

But Mabraat is building climate resilience, and we’re here to help. How? 

Through the Fairtrade Carbon Partnership’s cleaner cookstoves project, which is a collaboration between the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (the largest coffee federation in Ethiopia representing 400,000 farming families), FairClimateFund, Fairtrade Nederland and the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network. 

The project provides small-scale farmers around Ethiopia with cleaner cookstoves designed to use much less wood when cooking staple meals. 

Minimising wood use is vital for resilient crops. Not only do trees store carbon, but they shade the coffee bushes from higher temperatures - something the area can only expect more of in the coming years.

Traditionally, Mabraat would cook indoors on an open fire before working the coffee farm. It can be backbreaking, time-consuming work in an unhealthy environment between hours spent foraging firewood and bent over a smokey flame.

The Fairtrade Carbon Partnership provides families with two stoves. The Tikkil stove is for general cooking, and the Mirt stove is for baking a flat round bread made of teff flout (Injera). The stoves are subsidised by climate funding (that’s where we come in).

The Fairtrade Carbon Partnership also trains families in sustainable farming practices including planting trees for shade, diversifying a farm’s income, and using the land efficiently. The training is funded by a Fairtrade Premium included in the climate funding (that’s also where we come in).

To date, the project has:  
  • distributed stoves to 20,000 households;
  • saved 75,000 trees; and
  • saved 60,000 tonnes of emissions from the atmosphere.

The time that I have now, I use it to fetch water, clean the house, meet up with friends and talk, and many other things.

Mabraat, coffee farmer, Oromia, Ethiopia

For women like Mabraat, these stoves are an opportunity for a healthier, more resilient life. 

They reduce a family’s wood consumption by 40% and emit less smoke. Women, spared from collecting masses of firewood, have more time up their sleeves and less back-breaking work on their plates. This time lets them cultivate more coffee while being paid a living wage. More than just a way to cook bread, the stoves are an opportunity to build a financial buffer to help weather a bad season. 

It is the definition of building climate resilience, something we're incredibly proud to be helping fund.  

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