The Socio-Cultural Aspects of Coffee Production in Southwestern Ethiopia: An Overview

Endalkachew Lelisa Duressa


This paper primarily focuses on the socio-cultural aspects of coffee production in Southwestern Ethiopia. It begins with a description and analysis of the Social and Cultural values of coffee. Even though there are works that done on coffee, most of them are focus on the economic aspects of coffee production and marketing. The attention given for the socio-cultural aspect is very little. Therefore, this work tries to fill this gap that left by other written materials so far and contributes something in enriching the knowledge related with coffee in Southwestern Ethiopia. The paper deals with the general views of the origin of coffee, its distribution , its production and its social and Cultural contributions to the local people of the region and to the country as a whole. Present southwestern part of Ethiopia, the former Ennarya region of Limmu awraja of  Gomma district of Coccee  Guddaa  kebele at a site called ‘katta muuduu ga’a’ is said to be the historical root of coffee Arabica. It is also believed that coffee spread to the rest of the world from these local areas by Arab merchants. It was around 10th century A.D  that coffee was chewed by Oromo people  who combine the ripe berries of coffee with animal fat and form into round balls that they used for journeys. It is believed that it was during the Oromo expansion of the16th century that, the spreading out of coffee tree and coffee drinking habit expanded. Later, coffee is said to have been spread throughout Ethiopian high lands by long distance caravan merchants of the 19th century. It was probably Oromo traders who actually disseminated it to some parts of the north. It was probably Oromo traders who actually disseminated it to some parts of the north. The art of making coffee is a central element of  Oromo cultural practices. In this society, the coffee ceremony is an opportunity for social networking where elders pass the norms and values of the society ( Safuu) to the children. It also called as school of Oromo socialization. It is during this occasion that the youth are told proverbs, stories, as well as thoughts, customs, and norms of the community. Coffee used during different ritual practices such as child birth, in celebration for the birth of a calf, sacrifice for the spirit of a dead, ateetee ritual, moggaasa and baalli (Taking and Giving power of Gadaa ).The study areas are made up of diverse ethnic groups partly because of coffee production and marketing as different communities migrated from their homeland for different purposes during and before coffee harvesting periods. Many factors might have pushed these people to migrate to this area. For instance, population growth, lack of employment opportunity, poverty, famine, scarcity of land in their home land areas. During good coffee harvesting season, coffee farmers and traders enjoyed better living condition. Extravagance ceremonies are common. Besides, the kind of meals and drinks that they consumed during the months of February, March, and April were very much different in quality from other months. Youngsters were/are highly tempted by the decorated town’s bars and spent their time with bar ladies. In spite of this, during bad coffee year people faced hardship. To survive these days they took a number of measures. They borrowed money from the landlords and rich merchants to pay back for the next season and selling coffee at flowering stage. The rent together with mismanagement left the average peasant exposed to hunger during the middle of the rain season.

Keywords: Coffee,  Coccee, Awraja, Safuu, Production, Farmers, Buna  Qalaa, District

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