The Gera farm is located some 40 kilometres southwest of Jimma, in the district of the same name. The farm was set up by Mohamed Ali’s father over 70 years ago. Mustafa Mohamed Ali’s family obtained the land concession in 1946, following the war against the Italians and at a time when the Emperor Haile Selassie government was looking to develop its agricultural land. They decided to plant coffee there, and his father chose plants in the neighbouring forest of Choché which he transplanted onto the newly acquired plots. This forest is now a protected nature reserve, and the fact that the Gera farm possesses coffee trees from this area is one of the things that make it unique.
Mustafa Mohamed Ali took over management of the farm more than 30 years ago, and he is working hard to continue the project begun by his father,carefully cultivating its 25 hectares and the same coffee treessourced from the wild forest. He maintains the forest of endemic species that surround his coffee trees. It is a natural forest coffee that also benefits from the unique local farming practices, which include manual picking.
Our teams are helping Mohamed Ali to constantly improve the quality of his coffee. Marjorie, our agronomist, journeyed to Gera two years in a row to talk with the farmers about their harvesting, drying (for example by improving bed ventilation) and storage techniques. Shambé, who works at our Addis Ababa office, is in regular contact with them and visits Gera several times a year. He and Jacques also give Mohamed Ali advice on coffee processing in Addis Ababa.
Natural, dried on African beds
Local varieties | Direct purchase | Forest coffee | Endemic forest | Independent producer | Sustainable agriculture awareness
Mohamed Ali conducts his business according to family tradition, following in the footsteps of his father, notably with the aim of preserving his agricultural heritage.
The Mohamed Ali family has a long coffee production history, due partly to a stability achieved rapidly, in the 1950s, by selling their first harvests to the Yemeni traders who used to journey to the Ethiopian countryside to buy coffee. Mohamed’s father had studied in Egypt and become an Imam, and he had special ties with these foreign traders thanks to which he was able to develop his coffee plantations. When Mohamed Ali began managing the plots in the 1980s, he immediately did what he could to maintain them. After a two-year break in Saudi Arabia (1984–1986), he returned to his native region even more convinced that his father had left a legacy that was unique.
Mohamed Ali works relatively small plots of land, with the aim of preserving specimens from wild coffee trees and producing quality coffee. He has chosen to live with his family in the immediate vicinity of his plantations in the small town of Agaro.
For the past two years, Mohamed Ali has been able to sell his products directly abroad thanks to changes in the Ethiopian legislation. Until then, producers working on small farms had to sell their coffees either to a collector or directly to the coffee exchange (ECX) in Addis Ababa, which centralised international purchasing, sometimes obscuring traceability.
This turning point has given Mohamed Ali a new-found independence, and he now chooses to sell all his coffee to Belco.