TEKLU TESFAYE1, THOMAS BIERSCHENK2
1Centre for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Department of Political and Cultural Change, Germany
2University of Mainz, Institute of Ethnology and African Studies, Germany
In Ethiopia, wild arabica coffee populations have been used for hundreds of thousands of years. Thus, it can certainly be assumed that farmers have played a significant role in the distribution, population dynamics, conservation and management of the wild coffee. However, the role that farmers have played so far and their contribution towards the existence of the wild coffee has often been regarded, at least according to outsiders, as negligible. The age-old traditional coffee production practice, accompanied of course by unabated deforestation, has in particular been regarded as a major threat contributing to the existence of the wild coffee. A study was conducted with an main to analyse farmers´ resource utilisation behaviour and the influence it has on wild coffee conservation. The study gave particular emphasis to understanding farmers' perception of the reasons for the existence, the population dynamics, the threats to, the conservation need, and the strategies to conserve the wild coffee population in the forest. The result indicated that considerable variations were observed among farmers in terms of social factors such as age, education, family size, length of stay in the locality, religion and ethnicity. Such variations in turn have resulted in creating variations in resource utilisation behaviour among farmers themselves on the one hand and perception differences as regards the conservation need of the resource between outsiders and farmers on the other. Variations have also been observed among farmers themselves and between farmers and outsiders as regards the reason for the existence of, the population dynamics over time, the threats to and the conservation need of the wild coffee in the forest. Therefore, prior knowledge as regards the role that contemporary practices and attitudes play in exercising rights (social structure, power relations, resource ownership and rights over resources, responsibilities) by taking into account the social differentiations is significantly important as it plays a role in designing and implementing effective conservation and use concepts.
Keywords: Conservation, farmers' perception, wild coffee