Forest Conservation Project


Producing high quality coffee ultimately helps with forest conservation.

Success is due to being in Ethiopia,
the birthplace of coffee

In Ethiopia, where Arabica beans originated, forests were being cut down to generate income, leading to concerns about environmental destruction. In this environment, coffee, which grows naturally in the forests, emerged as a crop that would provide both economic affluence and protect the natural environment.

The JICA Belete-Gera Forest Conservation Project (JICA: Japan International Cooperation Agency) works to improve quality and raise awareness of coffee as a value-added project in order to realise its true value as a treasure that can be harvested in the forest.

JICA Belete-Gera Forest Conservation Project

Project Participation Background
It was a forest conservation project that led to the discovery of a red treasure deep within a virgin forest.

Ethiopia, known as the birthplace of coffee, is home to many virgin forests. However, forests were being cut down to generate cash income, leading to concerns about environmental destruction. So in 2003, JICA started a forest conservation project. Through this project, UCC discovered wild coffee growing in the forest reserves of the Belete-Gera region, which had a rich aroma true to the essence of the Arabica variety.

Under JICA's request, UCC first entered the region in 2011 as a surveyor in the Ethiopia Belete-Gera Forest Conservation Project. Since then, UCC has provided technical guidance on coffee cultivation along with undertaking initiatives to improve quality and increase motivation (such as holding quality contests) in order to help generate income from native coffees while protecting the forest. UCC also became the first company in Japan to commercialise coffee from Belete-Gera. We continue to sell this coffee today.

History of UCC's involvement in the project

  • 2022年

    ・Participated in field survey as a specialist following invitation from JICA.

  • 2022〜2023年

    ・Began conducting formal technical guidance to improve coffee quality.

  • 2023〜2025年

    ・Project in original location concluded.  Coffee farming is an established local industry in the region where the project was launched.
    We are currently working to improve the quality of Belete-Gera coffee to it can grow into a brand with even further added value.

    ・With demonstrable results shown in Belete-Gera, the decision was made to expand the target area. Today, UCC continues to provide technical guidance in the Belete-Gera region.

    ・Similar forest conservation projects are currently underway in Walega and Illubabor Province.

UCC's Role

By selling the rare coffees native to the forest at a premium, local people can generate an income from coffee without needing to clear the forest.

As part of a team of specialists, UCC has provided technical guidance.
With a focus on feasible local initiatives, we are able to actively involve ourselves in coffee production while satisfying producers by working together through consultations, decision-making, and the implementation process.
As such, even once a project has ended, the producers continue to work independently to further develop the coffee industry in Belete-Gera on their own.

UCC continues to provide technical guidance while commercialising and selling coffee from Belete-Gera.

Why is it beneficial to improve quality?

Example of technical guidance provided by UCC

  • 01

    Wait for the coffee cherries to ripen before harvest (It is difficult to make multiple trips due to the mountainous terrain. Provide guidance on efficient harvesting at peak ripeness.)

  • 02

    Separate by ripeness (Most poorly tasting coffee is a result of beans of different degrees of ripeness being mixed together.)

  • 03

    Use dew shields to ensure a stable, full drying process (Inefficient drying negatively impacts the taste.)

  • 04

    Along with automatic sorting machines, further remove poor quality beans through final visual inspection by staff

  • 05

    Update storage location to modern warehouse. Along with improving sanitation, divide into smaller lots and sections when storing. (Allows for sale as premium coffee)

  • 06

    Teach pickers (those harvesting) about high quality coffee cultivation theories and to understand the advantages of the Belete-Gera region.

Products made from Belete-Gera coffee

Belete-Gera coffee is Rainforest Alliance Certified.
The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit organisation that works to create a better future for people and nature.

The Rainforest Alliance mark shows that producers are following more sustainable farming practices that conserve the forest, improve livelihoods, encourage farmworker rights, and mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.

For detailed information on the Rainforest Alliance, go to

This product is now on sale at UCC Group's online shopping site Foodsfridge.

Initiatives with Producer Countries
- From Coffee Cultivation to Cup