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.
Visit their website: www.oromiacoffeeunion.org
Tags: Addis Ababa, direct relationships, Ethiopia, Ghimbi, Harrar, Jimma, Limu, local development, Negelle Gorbitu Cooperative, Neqemte, Nkemte, OCFCU, Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, Sidamo, Tasew Gebru, Yirgacheffe
ROASTING WITH RUSTY
African proverb – “When the elephants fight, it’s the grass that gets hurt.”
As I work tediously over a hot batch of freshly roasted beans, my mind begins to drift. In my defense, it can become brutally hot standing next to this roaster. This is south Georgia and the season of unrelenting heat and enveloping humidity is upon us. This being said, you’d have to be an idiot to want to stand next to one of these things in July… so the self-proclaimed idiot succumbs to the conditions and begins to mosey along the path of absurdity.
I’m hovering over this freshly roasted batch of an Ethiopian coffee, this one from the Yirgacheffe region. You see, I’ve been partial to this one since my first encounter and my desire for its mouth-popping lemony flavor has yet to diminish. However, lately I’ve been particularly pleased by another Ethiopian coffee, the Sidamo. It tastes like someone, somehow dropped a little orange and peach flavoring into my cup, concerned only with my satisfaction. The question now presents itself. If these two coffees were to fight, who would win?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no advocate of violence and note its needlessness regularly. Be that as it may, these are coffee beans and I don’t feel guilty for thinking of such things. So, as I’ve said before, it’s hot and in my daydream there’s this intense heat rushing through the base of the mountains of Africa. The Yirgacheffe and Sidamo beans have been hyped and manipulated by a sleazy promoter and have been forced into a ring which they reluctantly enter.
Little does the promoter know, both the Yirgacheffe and the Sidamo are pacifists and refuse to throw fists. This makes me angry because I wanted to imagine a knockdown drag-out fight between a couple of gifted coffee beans… and instead, there’s a peace demonstration in my fantasy. Well, I guess these two have made me learn something today. Having more than one fantastic coffee at my disposal is a good thing. I shouldn’t have to choose between any of them and now realize how fortunate we are that such things exist. I raise my cup to these fine beans who have made me recognize this. To Yirgacheffe and Sidamo!
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.
Tags: Ethiopia, Fair Trade premiums, FLO, Harrar, local development, Nagelle Borbitu Cooperative, OCFCU, Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, Oromia Regional State, Sidamo, Tadesse Meskela, Yirgacheffe
Established in June of 1999, the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU) is named after the Oromia region in Ethiopia. The men and women of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union — nearly 74,000 farmer members organized into 74 cooperatives — are the growers, processors and exporters of high quality, organic Arabica coffee. Sixty-five percent of the country’s coffee production, which involves approximately 425,300 households, is from this region. The coffee in the Oromia region is shade grown and is bird friendly.
OCFCU’s objectives are:
- To improve the farmer’s income by exporting their coffee
- To maintain the quality of coffee production
- To improve and maintain the sustainability of the coffee industry
- To improve the quality and productivity of Ethiopian coffee
- To regulate and stabilize local markets
- To provide farmers and clients with reliable service
OCFCU’s Coffee production:
Coffee production in the Oromia region is classified into four categories: 1) forest, 2) semi-forest, 3) garden, and 4) plantation. The members of OCFCU practice the first three of the four categories, though the majority of the union’s coffee production falls into the Garden Coffee category, which means the members’ coffee is grown in gardens close to the their homes. Garden coffee is found in all zones and districts of the Oromia region and provides for average yields of 600 to 800 kilos per hectare. Garden category coffee farmers inter-plant their coffee bushes with food crops and shade trees such as:
Spices — cardamom, pepper, jinger
Fruits and vegetables — papaya, mango, avocado
Roots — sweet potato, enset, boyina
Pulses — beans, peas, and soya beans
Forage — lucina, saspaniya
Shade trees — cordial, oak, acacia albizia
OCFCU is unique in that it has retained relative autonomy in its operations, maintaining full control over all activities associated with the production of its members’ coffees. To date, OCFCU has put into place a robust, well-developed processing infrastructure, which includes: 48 Pulperies; 15 hulleries, and 63 warehouses. Further, OCFCU has obtained special permission to by-pass the auction market and sell directly to importers such as Cooperative Coffees, of which Café Campesino is a founding member.
OCFCU receives its organic certification from BCS Oko Garantie in Numberg, Germany. Inspections are carried out three times a year on the coffee farms by independent inspectors. Supervision is carried out twice a year by BCS Oko Garantie top management. Oromia is also a member of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and the Eastern Africa Fine Coffee Association (EAFCA).
The Bottom Line: OCFCU Improves Lives
Seventy percent of the Union’s profits from selling and exporting coffee are distributed back to the 74 cooperatives. The cooperatives then distribute these dividends back to the farmer-members or to reinvest in capacity building assets. The other 30% of the Union’s profits are used for expansion of capacity building assets, for reserves against poor harvest years, and for community development.
Farmers are not required to sell all of their coffee to the Cooperative Union. Thus, the success of the Union depends on a fair price being paid to the farmer-members for their coffee.
Another way the Union shows its support for the farmers is by undertaking community improvement projects. In the past year four new schools were constructed as well as three health centers and two clean water supplies. By working together, farmer-members are able to pool their resources. This democratic system benefits individual farmers-members and their communities.
Tags: arabica, BCS Oko Garantie, bird-friendly, community development, Cooperative Coffees, cooperative objectives, EAFCA, Ethiopia, fair wage, forest, garden, Germany, Harrar, Numberg, OCFCU, organic, Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, Oromia Regional State, plantation, profit expenditure, SCAA, semi-forest, shade-grown, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe
Café Campesino is thrilled to announce the addition of a new Fair Trade, organic coffee to our lineup: Ethiopia Harrar, one of the most distinctive and interesting coffees available in the world! We roast our Harrar to a full city, which brings out the fruity blueberry and apricot characteristics of the coffee. Our Harrar has a medium body and, as one of our good customers put it, a “lush mouth feel.” And, as the coffee cools down a bit, you’ll begin to taste hints of rum and caramel. We hope that you enjoy drinking this truly unique coffee provided by our Fair Trade friends at the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative (OCFCU) whom we have featured in this edition of Fair Grounds and who also supply us with our delicious Yirgacheffe and Sidamo coffees. Order Harrar this month and receive 10% off of the regular listed price. Please use promotion code har705 when prompted at check out.
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
Tags: arabica, commercialaizing, community-based initiatives, Cooperative Coffees, direct relationships, Fair Trade, fair wage, Ghimbi, Harrar, Jimma, Limu, local development, marketing, Nagelle Borbitu Cooperative, Nekemte, Neqemte, OKO-GARANTIE, organic, Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, Oromia Regional State, processing support, SHB, Sidamo, Tasew Gebru, water systems, Yirgacheffe
Café Campesino announces the addition of a new coffee to our lineup: Ethiopian Harrar, one of the most distinctive and interesting coffees available in the world! We roast our Harrar to a full city, which brings out the fruity blueberry and apricot characteristics of the coffee. Our Harrar has a medium body and, as one of our good customers put it, a “lush mouth feel”. And, as the coffee cools down a bit, you’ll begin to taste hints of rum and caramel. We hope that you enjoy drinking this unique fair trade, organic coffee provided by our friends at the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative, who also supply us with our delicious Yirgacheffe and Sidamo coffees.
Some people swear by Nicaraguan coffee. Others only like Sumatran. Still others go out of their way to find African coffees. In these cases, it’s not the roast of the coffee that people are looking for, but where it was grown. And most of the time, they’re searching for more than just a name.
Coffee beans taste different depending upon where they are grown. Soil, climate, altitude, species variety, harvesting and processing methods all are factors that affect the flavor of the coffee.
Even if you buy the same coffee every time, it may taste different. Flavor changes with each roast, and taste and quality of the green coffee beans vary with each harvest season and shipment. Each year, the coffee can have a subtly different flavor, or be of a different quality due to changes in some of the above variables. For this reason, we do cupping tests of our coffee before purchasing it, even when we’ve bought from the same region before, to ensure that the coffee meets our established quality standards for each region.
There are certain conditions that are ideal for growing Arabica beans: rich, volcanic soil, the cover of shade trees, high elevations, temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees, and 75 inches of annual rainfall. In a very broad sense, coffees grown near each other have similar characteristics. Certain regions have reputations for consistently producing the highest quality beans, although this varies from year to year depending on variations in climate and changes in harvesting and processing methods.
There are three principal growing regions of coffee: Africa, Asia/Pacific, and the Americas. The Asia/Pacific region includes Indonesia, Micronesia, Southeast Asia and the surrounding smaller island countries.
One of the main reasons coffee production thrives in these lands is due to the geology of these areas. Both the Asia/Pacific region and the Americas are located on the “Ring of Fire.” The Ring of Fire refers to the border of the Pacific Ocean, where many earthquakes and volcanoes occur, and mountain ranges run parallel with the coast of the surrounding continents. Some of the best quality coffees in the world are grown here because of the high altitudes and rich volcanic soil.
Africa also is experiencing geological changes which make it ideal for coffee growing. While the Pacific coast is undergoing compressional stress as plates are pushed together, Africa is rifting apart and experiencing tensional stress. The East African Rift Valley is the evidence for this change. Volcanic soil is also present, as are mountains, making Africa another good place for coffee.
Altogether, Café Campesino offers seven different single origin coffees: two from the Asia/Pacific region, two from Africa and four from the Americas.
Coffee from the Americas tends to be the lightest and brightest. These coffees are described as crisp and clean, with good acidity, in other words, a bright aftertaste.
Ethiopian coffee is marked by many excellent regional varieties within the country’s growing area. At Café Campesino, we sell Ethiopia Sidamo and Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, which are both characterized by mild, fruity, and floral overtones. African coffees also have good levels of acidity, and produce a lingering aftertaste.
Coffees hailing from the Asia/Pacific region in general are full of body. They often exhibit more of an “earthy wild mushroom” taste than coffees from other regions. Sumatran coffees, such as our Gayo Mountain, are some of the heaviest, smoothest, and most complex coffees in the world.
These regional differences are highlighted or downplayed depending on the style of roast coffee’s unique flavor still begins with its origin on a faraway mountain under the tropical canopy of a rainforest. (See Fairgrounds Article, August, 2003 The Art (and Science) of Roasting Coffee)
And to learn more about the coffee producing regions mentioned in this article, visit these past Fairgrounds newsletter articles:
Exploring Our Origins: Sumatra
Exploring Our Origins: Guatemala
Exploring Our Origins: Ethiopia
Staff Notes: Bill’s Central American Adventures
Staff Notes: Bill’s Adventures, Part Two
Exploring Our Origins: Colombia
Tags: Africa, arabica, Asia, cupping, East African Rift Valley, Ethiopia, Gayo Mountain, green beans, Indonesia, Micronesia, Nicaragua, Pacific region, Ring Of Fire, Sidamo, Southeast Asia, Sumatra, the Americas, Yirgacheffe
It is the oldest independent country in Sub Saharan Africa and the only African country that has never been colonized. Its Great Rift Valley is known as the cradle of humanity, for the fossils of the oldest known hominid, the 3.5-million ‘Lucy’ that were found there in 1974. It is a beautiful land with a troubled past and an uncertain future. And it is the birthplace of coffee.
All varieties of coffee, whether grown in Asia or Africa, Central or South America, the islands of the Caribbean or Pacific, can trace their heritage to the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau. The earliest records of coffee use come from Ethiopia, where the native arabica tree has been harvested for centuries. More than any other country, Ethiopia has a broad genetic diversity among its coffee varieties. Nine different bean varieties are cultivated in the four growing areas, all with distinctive tastes, sizes, shapes, and colors.
The mountains to the west of the Great Rift Valley is ideally suited to growing arabica coffee and traditionally produces some of the best coffee in the world.
The Ethiopian nomadic mountain peoples of the Galla tribe may have been the first to recognize coffee’s sustaining effect. They gathered the coffee beans from the trees that grew in the region, ground them up and mixed them with animal fat, forming small balls that they carried as rations on trips. Other indigenous tribes ate the beans as a porridge or drank a wine created from the fermented crushed coffee beans. Brewing the beans came later.
Today, Ethiopia has over 800,000 acres of coffee under cultivation. Coffee accounts for 60% of the country’s export earnings and one-fourth of the population is engaged in coffee production, transportation and marketing. By all rights, the income from the country’s coffee trade should have helped it to develop into a more advanced nation, but this not the case. Ethiopia is the poorest country in Africa and among the poorest in the world. Why? The answer lies in its war-torn history.
Centuries of Conflict
Landlocked on the eastern side of the African continent, Ethiopia sits between Sudan, Eritrea, the tiny country of Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya. Its history can be traced to the 3rd century BC, when the Queen of Sheba’s son, Menelik I, began a long-running dynasty in Axum. The kingdom of Axum survived attacks from various forces for the better part of a thousand years, but finally broke down into constituent provinces in the 18th century, triggering 100 years of armed conflict between rival warlords. The empire was reunified in 1855, and after a succession of rulers, Prince Ras Tafari Makonnen (better known as Haile Selassie) became heir to the throne in 1916. He was proclaimed emperor in 1930.
From the start of his reign, Haile Selassie attempted to implement reforms and modernize the country. But World War II, and invasion by Mussolini’s troops, put his plans on hold. Selassie fled to England where he lived in exile until 1941, when Italy surrendered to the Allies. After the war, Ethiopia continued as an independent nation, although the province of Eritrea remained under British control. In 1952, the UN organized a plebiscite, federating Eritrea with Ethiopia. Needless to say, the people of Eritrea were unhappy with this course of events. In 1962, the federation was dissolved and the province was annexed by Haile Selassie. This resulted in widespread guerrilla warfare, which would last for 30 years.
Though Haile Selassie was seen by many as a national hero, opinion turned against him as the nobility and church in Ethiopia were allowed to line their pockets while millions of landless peasants starved. In 1974, a loose coalition of students, workers, peasants and the army rose up against Selassie and he was deposed. A military dictatorship, under the leadership of Mengistu Haile Mariam, took over, throwing out Americans, jailing trade union leaders, banning the church and turning to the USSR for economic aid. This led to more upheaval, and Somalia saw their opportunity to invade. With help from Soviet and Cuban troops, Mengistu was able to turn the Somalis back across the border.
But Mengistu’s troubles didn’t end there. He attempted to tighten his grip on the country by instituting conscription, curfews and disastrous population transfers, and found himself with a discontented population and war in Eritrea, Ogaden and Tigray. The Eritreans took Ethiopia’s main port, the Soviets pulled out, coffee prices fell and a major famine ravaged the country. An outpouring of international relief – including the Live Aid “Feed the World” recording and concerts – helped some, but in reality did little to address the country’s widespread problems.
The Seeds of Democracy
Finally, in 1991, with rebel forces about to seize Addis Ababa, Mengistu hastily left the country. When the rebel coalition under Tigrayan Meles Zenawi took over, they inherited six million people facing famine and a devastated economy. Despite these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, however, the new leaders made moves toward democracy.
In 1994, a new constitution was written, and in May 1995, Dr. Negasso Gidada was elected President. Ethiopians were at last given a say in their government at both the local and regional levels.
In the 1980s, the Ethiopian government created the Ministry of Coffee and Tea Development to increase production and improve the cultivation and harvesting of coffee. This ten-year plan (like all other African plans) called for the increase in the size of the state farms producing coffee from 30,000 acres to 110,000 acres by 1994 (this plan was very unrealistic). This goal was not met, due to the strains on the government’s financial resources and the consistently declining coffee prices in the world market.
With the demise of the ten-year plan, a visionary Ethiopian coffee farmer named Tadesse Meskela was inspired to improve the lives of poor farmers in his homeland. Though the coffee farmers had been organized into cooperatives, many were suffering great monetary losses to middlemen and exporters. Tadesse worked with the cooperatives and the Ethiopian government’s cooperative bureau to form a strong union. In 1999, The Oromia Coffee Famers Cooperative Union (OCFCU) was established with 34 participating cooperatives. Tadesse was appointed General Manager.
Old Conflicts Die Hard
Though reorganization into a democratic government continued throughout the 1990s, fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea over their disputed border broke out and became a full-scale war in 1998. By the time peace was established in 2000, 100,000 people had been killed and 750,000 had been driven from their homes.
The Ravages of Nature…and Politics
While the war was devastating for the government’s efforts to revitalize the Ethiopian economy, a severe drought over the last few years has put the country on the brink of a disaster of even grander proportions. The lack of crucial seasonal rains have put an estimated 10 million people in need of food. The drought has dealt a double blow to coffee farmers – threatening the quality as well as the quantity of production.
Not everyone in the country is affected by the drought, however. Water shoots from the fountains outside the Sheraton Addis, a luxury oasis in the midst of the cramped neighborhoods of the capital Addis Ababa. Well-heeled Ethiopians and tourists drive their SUVs to resorts in Lake Langano or the mountain terrain in the Simien highlands. As in many countries around the world (including our own), the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
An estimated 85% of the Ethiopia, some 55 million people, are dependent upon subsistence agriculture. Most of them have no electricity, no running water, and limited government services. Still, the population is growing quickly, from 45 million in the mid-1980s to nearly 65 million today. HIV is climbing, with more than 3 million people infected.
Add drought to the mix and the situation gets truly desperate.
Fair Trade Brings Hope
In partnership with Oxfam, OCFCU has begun an international campaign to raise consumer awareness of the plight of the Ethiopian coffee growers. During April, Tadesse Meskela has been on a speaking tour of the U.S., with stops in the west, Midwest and on the East Coast.
According to Tadesse, “There are communities that are growing coffee that have never bought clothes for the past three years. They have cancelled their marriage plans for their children because of the falling coffee prices. There is no money for the celebration that is important to the culture. Malnutrition is seen in coffee areas, because farmers…are better at [growing] their crop than saving money, so we have a plan to establish societies to help them save, then to use the money for when they are short of cash to buy food [during the growing season] when there is no harvest.”
Another essential way to fight poverty is to promote children’s education. But when families face hard times, school expenses are hard to meet. Part of the reason OCFCU is working so hard to promote sales of their coffee is that the increase in revenues going back to the communities can be used to build schools. This is addressing one of the direct barriers to education for impoverished communities in a country where only about a quarter of the school-aged children attend school.
Tadesse believes that Fair Trade is the answer. In 2001, eight of OCFCU’s cooperatives (7,107 members) became Fair Trade certified. More will achieve Fair Trade certification in the near future. In only its third year, the OCFCU is already starting to return 70% of its gross profits back to the Fair Trade cooperatives, in order to help coop members. Through its sister organization Cooperative Coffees, Café Campesino buys Yirgacheffe and Sidamo beans from OCFCU.
By increasing the revenues going back to Oromia’s coffee farmers, OCFCU is helping Ethiopian farmers continue their proud tradition of coffee cultivation in the face of the most serious economic threats they have seen in generations.
Tags: arabica, coffee crisis, Cooperative Coffees, Cuba, drought, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fair Trade, Fair Trade certified, famine, Galla tribe, Great Rift Valley, HIV, Live Aid "Feed the World", malnutrition, Ministry of Coffee and Tea Development, Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, Oxfam, plebiscite, poverty, Sidamo, Somalia, Sub Saharan Africa, subsistence agriculture, Tadesse Meskela, UN, USSR, Yirgacheffe
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