Producer Profile: Oromia

Written by Cafe Campesino on Dec 8, 2010 in NEWSLETTER, Producer Profile |


Established in 1999
Member: 128,361 as of 2007, 129 cooperatives
Regions: Limu, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, Nekemte, Jimma, Sidamo, Neqemte/Ghimbi, and Harrar

Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee and yet the fourth poorest country in the world. Coffee farmers 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 exporting cooperative with offices in Addis Ababa, and affiliated farmer cooperatives located throughout the coffee growing regions of Ethiopia. Oromia was established in 1999 to facilitate the direct exportation of coffee produced by Ethiopia’s small farmers and assist in marketing, processing and credit issues.  Oromia 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 128,361 members as of 2007. OCFCU works exclusively in 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 harvest of 2004, OCFCU processed 81,596 tons of coffee (30,415 of which was organic).  To support this work, OCFCU maintains 55 pulperies, 15 hulleries, and 129 warehouses in growing communities supported by 30 employees. Of the 129 co-ops, 28 of them are fair trade certified by FLO.

Establishing a direct relationship with the farmers is always an important aspect of Cooperative Coffee’s mission. But as one of their first buyers and the first foreign importer to meet the farmers, the impact appears all the more dramatic in Ethiopia.  “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 their fair trade premiums they 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.

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