Producer Profile: Ethiopia

Written by Cafe Campesino on Jun 4, 2009 in NEWSLETTER, Producer Profile |
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Ethiopia

Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU)

The Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU) is an exporting cooperative established in 1999 to facilitate the direct exportation of coffee produced by Ethiopia’s small farmers.

OCFCU is a well-organized umbrella organization responsible for processing, marketing, and commercializing coffee for its members.  The union is comprised of 129 cooperatives, made up of approximately 130,000 members. OCFCU works exclusively in Oromia Regional State, which accounts for 65 percent of the country’s total coffee growing land and includes the coffees we buy from Yirgacheffe, Sidamo, and Harrar.  Of the 129 coops, 28 are Fair Trade certified by FLO. Establishing a direct relationship with the farmers is always the most important aspect of the Cooperative Coffees mission. And as one of their first buyers and the first foreign importer to meet the farmers, the impact appears all the more dramatic in Ethiopia. While this is the birthplace of coffee, it is also the fourth poorest country in the world. Coffee farmers live a very traditional lifestyle, farming fewer than 5 acres and living in stick houses. Electricity, running water and indoor plumbing are rare in rural areas.

“Before, people would not come here, but treat us like animals and oppress us,” said the elder Tasew Gebru of the Nagelle Gorbitu Cooperative. “We appreciate your efforts, and to help us improve our lives; we really have seen an improvement in the last two years.”

With the Fair Trade premiums, they have greatly improved local infrastructure in several of the coops. They’ve constructed five primary schools, four health clinics, and one bridge.  Projects aimed at providing a clean water supply and stable electricity are also proving successful. They now have a cupping lab located at their office and are in the process of constructing two warehouses.  At the time of Cooperative Coffees’ last visit, they were in the midst of creating their own processing center and had recently opened a cooperative bank which offers service to all members.  OCFCU also provides its farmers with insurance options to cover coffee against loss.  “Fair Trade has done a lot,” general manager Tadesse Meskela says.  “But it still needs a lot more promotion.”

Here’s a thought: Use this month’s discount code – 15June9– to purchase some of our Ethiopian coffee at 15% off the regular price. Your purchase helps us to buy more of OCFCU’s coffee.

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