Producer Profile: Ethiopia’s OCFCU

Written by Cafe Campesino on Jul 1, 2005 in NEWSLETTER, Producer Profile |
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Producer: OCFCU – Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union
Founded: June 1, 1999
Coffee: Arabica SHB, Organic Certified by OKO-GARANTIE
Characteristics: A sweet, complex coffee with medium acidity and rich, full body

Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee and yet it is the fourth poorest country in the world. Coffee farmers there live a very traditional lifestyle, farming less than 5 acres and living in stick houses…electricity, running water and indoor plumbing are rare in rural areas.

The Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU) is an extremely well organized umbrella organization carrying the heavy responsibility of processing support, marketing, and commercializing coffee for 74 cooperatives comprising of 68,691 members and 343,455 family members. OCFCU works exclusively in the Oromia Regional State, which accounts for 65 percent of the country’s total coffee growing land and includes coffees from Limu, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, Nekemte, Jimma, Sidamo, Neqemte, Ghimbi, and Harrar. During the 2004 harvest of 2004, OCFCU processed 81,596 tons of coffee, of which 30,415 tons were organic.

To support its work, OCFCU (with 25 employees) maintains 48 pulperies, 15 hulleries, and 63 warehouses in growing communities. Of the 74 co-ops, 11 of them are fair trade certified by FLO – representing 8,963 farmers and 13,906 tons of coffee.

As a member of Cooperative Coffees, Café Campesino is committed to maintaining direct relationships with our coffee farmer partners overseas. Cooperative Coffees was one of OCFCU’s first buyers and the first foreign importer to meet the farmers, the impact of which is best captured by the elder Tasew Gebru of the Nagelle Gorbitu Cooperative, who said, “Before people would not come here, but treat us like animals and oppress us. We appreciate your efforts, and to help us improve our lives; we really have seen an improvement in the last two years.”

With their Fair Trade premiums the coffee farmers of OCFCU have constructed four schools, two health clinics and a clean water supply. They now have a cupping lab located at their office and are in the process of constructing two warehouses. They hope to have their own processing plant within the next three years.

Source: Cooperative Coffees

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