Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Linking Smallholders in Ethiopia and Rwanda to Higher Value Coffee Markets

May 21, 2008
institutional sponsor: 
United States Agency for International Development


Steve McCarthy presented, "Linking Smallholders in Ethiopia and Rwanda to Higher Value Coffee Markets." The seminar was the 31st installment of the Linking Small Firms to Competitiveness Strategies Breakfast Seminar Series sponsored by the USAID Microenterprise Development office.

Mr. McCarthy's presentation focused on a value-chain approach employed by ACDI/VOCA in Ethiopia to address the major constraints of the coffee industry. In particular, emphasis was placed on strengthening the cooperation between small-scale producers as well as establishing cooperative unions to achieve the economies of scale needed to reach international markets.

There were profound constraints in the industry at the start of the project, but an opportunity arose when the government of Ethiopia removed the requirement for cooperatives to sell all coffee through the national auction. This, in turn, allowed for direct export sales. A new highly efficient market channel for specialty coffee resulted from the facilitation of direct exports and technical assistance in production, processing, and exporting procedures. Mr. McCarthy also discussed a case in Rwanda and the success that has resulted from the re-building of coffee washing stations. He concluded the seminar with a number of key lessons learned.


Stephen McCarthy

Senior Technical Specialist Stephen McCarthy has 27 years’ experience in project design and management in agricultural development, extension and training, smallholder production and marketing sy

stems. Mr. McCarthy served six years’ experience as an extension and training specialist with Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, where he designed programs and trained over 900 extension agents in non-formal education techniques, communication and demonstration skills, training of trainers and participatory adult education. He also served 10 years as associate director and country director for the U.S. Peace Corps in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda, where he was responsible for over 85 volunteers annually. He has eight years’ experience as project chief of party (COP) for long-term USAID-funded projects focusing on cooperative development and linking producers with markets in Ethiopia and Egypt. As a COP, for the Agricultural Cooperatives in Ethiopia (ACE), Mr. McCarthy was instrumental in linking Ethiopian smallholder coffee producers to the high value specialty markets.   He has particular expertise in value chain analysis, market linkages and commodity marketing for smallholders in cereals, coffee, horticulture, dairy and livestock. He has co-authored two Kenyan publications: “Maize Conservation on the Farm” and “Grain Storage Management Technical Manual for Front Line Extension Agents.” Mr. McCarthy earned his M.A. in international communication and development at American University and his B.S. in sociology/psychology at Boston State College. He is fluent in Amharic.