Jimma City; the city of love
Jimma (Oromo: Jimmaa) is the largest city in southwestern Oromia Region, Ethiopia. It is a special zone of the Oromia Region and is surrounded by Jimma Zone. It has a latitude and longitude of 7°40′N 36°50′E. Prior to the 2007 census, Jimma was reorganized administratively as a special Zone. Jimma, town, southwestern Ethiopia, 220 miles (353 km) by road southwest of Addis Ababa. It lies at an elevation of 5,740 feet (1,750 metres) in a forested region known for its coffee plantations. Jima serves as the commercial centre for the region, handling coffee and other products. An agricultural school and an airport serve the town. Potassium and sodium nitrates are mined to the northeast. Pop. (2007 prelim.) 120,600 according to Britannica.
According to Donald Levine, in the early 19th century the market attracted thousands of people from neighboring regions: “Amhara from Gojjam and Shoa, Oromo from all the Gibe Kingdoms and numerous representatives of the Lacustrine and Omotic groups”.
At the very beginning of the 20th century, the German explorer Oscar Neumann visited Jimma on his journey from the Somali coast through Ethiopia to the Sudan. As he observed, “Jimma is almost the richest land of Abyssinia; the inhabitants are pure, well-built Oromo; they are nearly all Mohammedans, as is their king, Abba Jifar, a very clever man, who submitted to Menelik at the right time and, therefore, retained his country”
The present town was developed on the Awetu River by the Italian colonial regime in the 1930s. At that time, with the goal of weakening the native Ethiopian Church, the Italians intended to make Jimma an important center of Islamic learning, and founded an academy to teach fiqh. In the East African fighting of World War II after their main force was defeated, the Italian garrison at Jimma was one of the last to surrender, holding out til July 1941.
Following the death of Abba Jifar II of Jimma in 1932, the Kingdom of Jimma was formally absorbed into Ethiopia. During the reorganization of the provinces in 1942, Jimma vanished into Kaffa Province.” Herbert S. Lewis states that in the early 1960s Jimma was “the greatest market in all of south-western Ethiopia. On a good day in the dry season it attracts up to thirty thousand people. Jimma was the scene of a violent encounter which started in April 1975 between radical college students (known as zemacha) sent to organize local peasants, who had benefited from land reform, and local police, who had sided with local landowners. Students and peasant followers had imprisoned local small landowners, rich peasants and members of the local police force; this action led to further unrest, causing the Derg (the ruling junta) to send a special delegation to Jimma, which sided with the local police. In the end, 24 students were killed, more arrested, and the local zemacha camps closed.
On 13 December 2006, the Ethiopian government announced that it had secured a loan of US$98 million from the African Development Bank to pave the 227 kilometers of highway between Jimma and Mizan Teferi to the southwest. The loan would cover 64% of the 1270.97 million Birr budgeted for this project. Jimma has a relatively cool tropical monsoon climate (Köppen Am). It features a long annual wet season from March to October.
Afternoon temperatures at Jimma are very warm year-round, with the daily maximum usually staying between 24 and 27 °C (75.2 and 80.6 °F). Morning temperatures are even more consistent, being at a cool-to-pleasant 12 to 13 °C (53.6 to 55.4 °F) virtually every day.
A few buildings have survived from the time of the Jimma Kingdom, including the Palace of Abba Jifar. The city is home to a museum, Jimma University, several markets, and an airport (ICAO code HAJM, IATA JIM). Also of note is the Jimma Research Center, founded in 1968, which is run by the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research. The Center specializes in agricultural research, including serving as the national center for research to improve the yield of coffee and spices.
There are many important public academic institutions like Jimma University and Jimma Teachers College. Jimma Teachers College is well known teachers training institution established early in the country. Additionally there are also many private academic institutions currently serving the community. Football is the most popular sport in Jimma. The 50,000-capacity Jimma University Stadium is the largest venue by capacity in Jimma. It is used mostly for football matches. Jimma is served by Jimma Aba Jifar Airport. The airport completed a renovation in 2015 in order to accommodate larger aircraft and more passengers.
Visiting the Birthplace of Coffee: Jimma, Ethiopia
Have you heard the story of Kaldi the goat herder and his frolicking herd? The famous Ethiopian legend tells the story of Kaldi who noticed how excited his sheep became after eating fruit from a certain tree. Curious, Kaldi tried the fruit. Soon he was bursting with energy. After watching the odd behavior of Kaldi and his herd, a monk took some of this strange cherry fruit back to his monastery where monks spent the night awake and alert. Kaldi is often credited as the first person to discover coffee.
Second only to oil, coffee is the most valuable legally traded commodity in the world. People pay top dollar for quality coffee beans. Part of what makes a good coffee bean depends largely on how it is grown and harvested. Coffee buyers have lofty expectations for Ethiopian coffee, after all, the country has been harvesting coffee for centuries.
Harvesting Coffee in Southwest Ethiopia
Our partners at Limmu Coffee Farm — the largest modern coffee plantation in Ethiopia — grow coffee in the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia near the town of Jimma. More than 75 percent of the coffee is grown under the shade of trees. The remaining area is comprised of infrastructure and preserved forest. Rainforest Alliance and Utz —two prominent international certifiers —have recognized Limmu Farm for its environmental growing practices. More than 100 native and leguminous shade trees are planted per hectare of land. That’s well above our shade grown certification requirements.
The Farm is green in more ways than one. Limmu Farm practices micro-basin rainwater harvesting, applies organic compost fertilization, uses mechanical eco-pulpers and solar driers, and invests in hiring staff. But the farm wasn’t always sustainable.
Limmu Farm was once owned by the Ethiopian government with the intent of improving economic infrastructure in western Ethiopia. However, farm operations were poorly managed. The farm consumed more water than necessary, which led to wastewater pollution. The lack of technological agricultural support from the government resulted in low crop yields and poor coffee plants. Additionally, deforestation was popular in the area. These factors contributed to the Jimma region developing a reputation for bad coffee. It was so bad that Jimma 5 became a trade term for bad coffee in Ethiopia.
Fortunately, in 2014 the farm was bought from the government and transformed. New management has renovated the coffee fields with resistant coffee plant varieties. They’ve also invested in adding health facilities, schools, new roads, and funded a sports team to benefit the local community. The farm provides permanent jobs to nearly 3,000 people. During peak times, as many as 20,000 people work on the farm and depend on it for their livelihood.
Green Tastes Good
Since becoming privately owned and implementing green practices, the farm has improved the quality of life to the local community, economically and environmentally. Crop yields have increased, wastewater pollution has been reduced, and the quality of the coffee has significantly improved, becoming one of the most sought-after coffee flavors in the world.
- ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION.
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