A Taiwanese university has played a middleman role in helping its students from Ethiopia find a way to export coffee beans to Taiwan from their country at a better price, in an effort to address the problem of low incomes among the families of the students.
About 80 students from Ethiopia are studying at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology in Taipei -- the largest number in any Taiwanese university from the African country, a major coffee producer.
Many farmers in Ethiopia grow coffee, but many are exploited by resellers and earn little money, said Liao Ching-jong (廖慶榮), president of the university.
The university hopes to help the low-income families of its Ethiopian students, Liao said, referring to the reason behind a cooperative project between the university and Taiwanese coffee importers.
Under the project, the university has started cooperating with a Taiwanese company that has decided to purchase coffee beans directly from Ethiopian coffee farmers at a better price than that offered by resellers. Many of the students have family members who are coffee farmers.
Through the project, the university said it has also introduced a "smart" machine to roast coffee beans, which was developed by a National Kaohsiung First University of Science and Technology team, to Ethiopian farmers in an effort to improve the quality of their coffee products.
Kerayu Bulti Abdisa of Ethiopia, a student at the university's Department of Chemical Engineering, said his hometown is a major coffee-producing area. Many of his family members and relatives are coffee farmers, he said.
Coffee is an important crop in his hometown and is as important as water for the people there, he said, adding that he felt excited to see coffee products from his hometown is being sold in Taiwan.
Another Ethiopian student said that his country produces coffee beans of high quality and expressed hope that the project will help increase the income of local coffee farmers and improve their lives.