Established on April 28th, 1988 by organic coffee Arabica farmers, these people cultivate their coffee on family owned plots and surrounding forest areas. Kuti farmers also grow various food crops such as maize, tef, beans, barley, and vegetables for domestic consumption. Farmers also rear animals such as sheep, goats, and chicken to support their livelihoods. Found in the SNNPR, Kaffa Zone, and Gimbo Woreda, the Kuti cooperative neighbors the birthplace of coffee Arabica in Decha. The Kuti cooperative can be accessed year round and is located about 458km from Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa and 109km from the TechnoServe Office in Jimma. The cooperative spans a total of 10,822 hectare. Of this land, 4,508 ha is covered by forest, 365 ha is used for perennial crops, 2,308 is for annual crops, 1,248 ha is grazing land, and 2,293 ha is dedicated to other purposes. Of these uses, coffee crops make up a total of 1,221 hectare. The land the Kuti cooperative occupies is mainly rugged and slightly flat. The coffee is cultivated and processed at altitudes between 1,700 and 2,000 meters. TechnoServe Ethiopia’s Coffee Initiative supports the Kuti cooperative by providing business advice and resources to improve quality and increase production of coffee. With this enhanced production, Kuti farmers are able to raise their standard of living and further enrich their livelihoods.TechnoServe directly collaborates with farmers to enhance the Kuti market chain through the service provider, Kaffa Union, and connect them to international specialty coffee buyers. The Kuti cooperative was able to fulfill TechnoServe selection criteria and receive a loan to construct and begin operation of a wet mill in 2009. Prior to the introduction of wet mill processing, local farmers sold their coffee as dry cherry at local markets. Market traders would determine the prices of the coffee. In 2008 and 2009, prices only reached 3 birr/kg for red cherry and 10 birr/kg for dry cherry. Because of the low quality and prices of the coffee, Kuti farmers were unable to benefit from their coffee business. Wet mill operation began in 2009 at altitudes between 1.700 and 2,000m and is accessible for cherry collection and parchment transportation. With increasingly strong leadership and commitment of members, the cooperative’s coffee earned a cupping score of 86 points, a CPQI of 14, and a cherry to parchment ratio of 21.9%. For the past 3 years, Kuti coffee has been increasing in quality and price. Kuti coffee was recently purchased at $3.05 per pound. Total coffee plantation covers 1,221 hectares and the average household is 0.84 hectare. In 2009 and 2010, red cherry production reached 488,400 kg and 366,300 kg respectively. Kuti coffee is cultivated within the forest and on family owned plots. Farmers grow in shady areas and utilize mulching and agroforestry practices. The coffee is completely organic and no agrochemicals are used. The wet mill receives clean water from a nearby naturally flowing river. Processing produces no contamination or pollution, as excess pulp is decomposed and used as a natural fertilizer. Wastewater is filtered through vetivar grass planted covering the entire site. The mill has hired a staff of wet mill operators, an industry manager, an accountant, a storekeeper, guards, and daily laborers. All employees have access to a clean water supply and pit latrines on site. 7,708 Kuti farmers are members of Peasant Associations. There are currently over 220 members of the Kuti cooperative.
Transparency is an important driver of efficiency and good governance at cooperatively-owned coffee wet mills and can lead to higher farm-gate prices. Coffeetransparency.com collates the most important production and financial information from participating wet mill businesses - from export revenues to incomes -and organizes this information into a two-page transparency sheet. The left-hand numbers are key indicators of production efficiency and farmer income for the most recently completed coffee season.
Adopting business practices that treat workers and suppliers ethically and fairly, protect the environment, and promote economic transparency will build the foundation for a sustainable business. Participating wet mills and supplying farmers are trained and audited on a set of sustainability standards that focus on 5 categories – social responsibility & ethics, occupational health & safety, environmental responsibility, economic transparency and production & farm management. The numbers on the left track compliance against best practices in each category from the most recently completed sustainability audit.