What’s Happening With The Stumping Project – October 2023 Update

The Stumping Project is an Ethiopian coffee initiative to help farmers renew their coffee trees

In Ethiopia, heavy pruning coffee is not popular. Any pruning of coffee is not popular! To a coffee farmer, pruning the tree means losing a year of production.

Pruned trees produce less for the first year, it’s true. But if you don’t stump coffee, the tree produces less herbaceous growth where most of the coffee fruit is set, and becomes a huge, rangey inefficient plant in general.

“Stumping” a coffee tree doesn’t sound like a transformative act. But in reality of a coffee tree is not pruned, and occasionally pruned down to a knee-high stump, it tends to produce less and less coffee.

Example of a mature stumped coffee tree in Limmu Kossa
Example of a mature stumped coffee tree in Limmu Kossa, Ethiopia

The Stumping Project was initiated by Falcon coffee and Technoserve to compensate farmers for the lost harvest, encouraging them to stump their coffee farms in a systematic way, while providing tools and technical support. Here are some first hand accounts collected by the Technoserve agronomists of how the project has assisted some of the 198 farmers who are participating.

(These quotes were recorded after this farm received new tools to help perform stumping correctly. If stumping is done poorly or with a machete, the tree stump can rot, and truly damage the future of the plant. So proper tools and training really matter to rejuvenate coffee trees!)

We continue to support the Stumping Project via Falcon Coffee who manages imports of much of our coffee, directed to the Technoserve team based in Addis Ababa So far we have sent over $13,000 to help fund this project and are preparing our next donation at this time to add to that figure – Thompson

Shibiru Worassa Wata: Coffee Farmer’s Journey to Success

Shibiru Worassa Wata, a 53-year-old coffee farmer lives in Tumtacha kebele, Dilla Zuria district of Gedeo zone, Ethiopia. Shibiru and his wife Tadelech Ademe have 10 children and a mother to support.

They own 3 hectares of land where they farm coffee, enset, timber (Cordia africana), complemented by a small butchery on market days. Their main source of income is from their coffee farm, but the yield has been very low, and they have been struggling to make a living for several years. In recent years, Shibiru has struggled to improve the yield of his coffee trees.

In January 2022, he was invited to TechnoServe’s Regrow Yirga coffee training program on best farming practices funded by USDA Food for Progress. Shibiru joined the Regrow Yirga Coffee Farm College program’s 2022 cohort and showed great interest in the two-year practical training program for coffee farmers. He learned about mulching, sucker selection, preparing and applying compost, intercropping and more, but he was particularly interested in stumping old trees, as he learned it could rejuvenate them and increase yields by three-fold.

With the tools provided by TechnoServe, Shibiru stumped 1500 coffee trees from his 3-hectare coffee farm.

“I didn’t think twice when I heard about the importance of rejuvenating an old coffee tree. Some of my coffee was not producing well, even though the trees were still standing, they did not flower or bare cherries. My understanding of stumping and regeneration has guided my decision to cut the old coffee trees” – Shibiru

The team has provided Shibiru and Tadelech with practical advice and the necessary tools to stump the trees. He is now confident that stumping was the right decision for his farm. After one year, with composting and sucker selection, he is already seeing the hopes of the new trees, which are growing healthier and more productive than ever.

“I’m so happy to be in my coffee farm every day, seeing the progress of my rejuvenated trees. I’m glad that the other farmers are also starting to see the benefits of stumping, too. Soon, the whole community will be following my lead.” – Tadelech

Shibiru stumped an additional 150 trees in February 2023 and received a coffee exporting license from the federal government. He is planning to process specialty quality coffee, which he hopes will increase his household income.

“TechnoServe showed me how to be productive in ways that I never knew were possible. I have seen the results of the training on my own farm. My rejuvenated coffee trees are flourishing and are very promising. I have big ambitions for my coffee farming and exporting business, and I hope to change the lives of my family and my community”. – Shibiru

Shibiru and Tadelech are sending their young children to school and plan to diversify their income by buying a business vehicle for their oldest son who will use the vehicle to transport coffee beans to market. They have been able to improve their family home above and invest in off-farm businesses such as transport and meat processing. Their story shows that even small farmers can make a big difference by adopting new techniques and practices. With the right support, farmers can improve their yields and incomes, and help to ensure the future of coffee production.

“A few years ago, it was so difficult for a farmer to stump even 5 coffee trees, but now, our farmers are stumping up to 3,000 trees. This is just the beginning. We are taking the lessons of TechnoServe’s success on good practices such as stumping, composting, and intercropping to all our 127,000 coffee farmers. The TechnoServe training has completely transformed the situation.” – Yishak Assefa Gobena, Deputy Woreda chief and head of Agriculture for Wonago Woreda.

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