Ethiopia has adequate agro-climatic diversity to grow a wide variety of spices, herbs, medicinal and other essential oil-bearing plants; and the cultivation of these is scattered throughout the country, mainly in southern areas. Kaffa zone has a great potential for spices and herbs production. However the majority of producers (mainly smallholder farmers) have been producing merely for subsistence rather than market oriented. The demand for spices and herbs has been growing both in the local and in the international markets so there are multiple opportunities. But the Ethiopian spice sector still faces multiple production, processing and marketing challenges. Traditional cultivation practices, lack of post-harvest handling technologies and loosely coordinated marketing systems are among the major ones. An initiative that could support the development of the sector in Ethiopia and to overcome these challenges, Damascene Essential oil PLC committed to organizing women farmers into 10 cooperatives and encouraged them to produce spices and herbs in their backyard in this Kaffa zone (South west Ethiopia).
One of these women farmer cooperatives is Serto Medan Producers' Organization, linked to Damascene Essential oil PLC, one of the 2SCALE business champions. Serto Medan cooperative was established in 2017, and has currently a total of 50 members from which 35 are young women. On average, each woman has 0.125 hectares of backyard land dedicated to the production of different spices and herbs.