In a country with over a hundred million inhabitants and in which food security continues to be a problem, it is particularly important to think about whether the concentration of agricultural yields is the method of choice or decentralized production, which particularly in times of crisis assures short supply chains and local self-sufficiency. Two lecturers from Jimma University, Dr. Teferi Tolera and Dr. Fekadu Mitiku, presented insights into their research into this pertinent academic area. Jimma University is located in the Kafa region, where coffee was “discovered” and after which it was named. To this day, it is one of the world's most important growing areas for Arabica coffee. Accordingly, the cultivation of this important consumer product played an important role in the presentations at the KASHA seminar. As with other agricultural products, the question is always present as to whether the priority should be higher yields or more sustainable, hence organic, production. The most natural method of production of Arabica coffee lies in the cultivation of original forests with coffee trees (“wild coffee”). This form of cultivation is now unique to the Kafa region, as it no longer exist in this form anywhere else in the world. The Afromontane cloud forests of Kafa are an immense resource: they sequester significant amounts of carbon dioxide and are the origin and centre of the genetic diversity of Arabica coffee. The presentations by the two university lecturers made it clear how necessary it is to achieve higher profit margins in organic farming, especially through certification. Traditional coffee cultivation and the coffee plantation economy in Ethiopia are both under economic pressure due to competition from the cultivation of khat – a highly popular amphetamine-containing stimulant, which is a million-dollar business in the Horn of Africa and East Africa. The excursion to a coffee farm run by the university gave the group a concrete insight into the different types of coffee cultivation. The participants were able to examine traditional cultivation in coffee forests as well as plantation farming protected by large trees (agroforestry).
KAAD also has a special connection to Jimma because Ethiopian KAAD-scholars often come from the Apostolic Vicariate of Jimma-Bonga, where there is a very lively Catholic community. Parts of the seminar therefore took place in the buildings of the Vicariate. The head of the KAAD Africa Department, Dr. Marko Kuhn, was present at the seminar and also met the current scholars who are being supported for master's studies in Ethiopia. Together with the participants of the seminar, he also met the Apostolic Vicar of Jimma-Bonga, Bishop Markos Gebremedhin, for an exchange.
Immediately after the seminar, Marko Kuhn travelled to Northern Ethiopia, where until recently a terrible war raged with many civilian victims in the Tigray province. Together with two heads of KASHA, he paid a solidarity visit to the diocese of Adigrat, where a particularly large number of KAAD scholars originate from. The purpose of the visit was to learn more about the local conditions and to see the structures of the Catholic Church and the largely destroyed University of Adigrat. The host was Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin, who has had strong ties to KAAD for many years.