Of the 60 Ethiopian students studying in Taiwan, 56 are at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST). We felt compelled to do something for them, NTUST’s Professor Huang Ping-hsi said

By Shih Hsiu-chuan (CNA) |

TAIPEI, Taiwan―The deadly landslide at a landfill in Ethiopia last March was not just another sad story for teachers at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST). Shocked to the core, they came up with the idea of seeking the help of Ethiopian students to import more Ethiopian coffee through a direct trade program designed to help the farmers of that country.

“Of the 60 Ethiopian students studying in Taiwan, 56 are at NTUST. We felt compelled to do something for them,” NTUST Professor Huang Ping-hsi said.

Huang and Principal Liao Ching-jong proposed the idea partly because most of the students came from coffee-growing areas in Ethiopia.

“We looked at the economics of the coffee industry there and found that coffee farmers typically get only 10 percent of profits generated from their produce,” Huang said.

Huang, who heads Kooidea Campus, an e-commerce platform launched by the school, suggested to Wang Hsin-chun, CEO of Oklao Coffee Farm, that they cooperate under the “Goodwill Farm” project to provide smallholders with better remuneration.

The first batch of 10 tons of coffee beans from Ethiopia arrived in Taiwan about two months ago, and was recently transformed into product ready to be used by Oklao.

Under the project, Oklao buys coffee beans directly from growers and gives cupping feedback to both farmers and NTUST, meaning a certain percentage of revenues generated from the coffee products sold is returned to local farmers and the school as a reward, Wang said.

“Oklao pays the farmers four or five times higher than wholesale dealers,” Wang said. “Which is made possible by cutting out a long chain of intermediaries that constitute exploitation through multiple transactions.”

“Making a cup of coffee is an everyday thing,” Wang said at an event held at NTUST on Jan.23, “But being part of the Goodwill Farm project has made it different.”

Continue reading this story at CNA English
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