Sinesso cooperative was established in 1989 and renewed in 1996 with 112 farmers, 100 of which are female. Coffee Arabica serves as the main source of income for these farmers, and crops such as tef, maize, sorghum, barley, and chat supplement their income. Many of the farmers also raise sheep goat, cows, and oxen. Most of what they earn is spent on clothing, children’s schooling, ceremonies, and buying farming supplies. Sinesso has become a top performer in the Ilubabour zone and has received awards for their high coffee quality and production volume. Found in southwest Ethiopia’s Oromia state, Ilubabour Zone, and Dedhessa woreda, the cooperative is 455 km from Addis Ababa and 85 km from the town of Beddele. The site is 20 km from a main road and 3 km from a mid-size road that can be accessed during the dry season. The surrounding area is hilly and covered by jangles forest. Coffee catchment areas are found in semi highland areas between 1,700 and 2,000m altitude. Over 2,575 ha of land are dedicated to coffee cultivation. Maize, tef, maize, and barley occupy much of the remaining areas. The Sinesso cooperative receives support from TechnoServe’s Coffee Initiative. Farmers obtain business advice and technical support in order to increase production and quality of their coffee. With these tools, Sinesso farmers are able to better their standard of living and work their communities out of poverty. TechnoServe also works with farmers to improve their market chain and connect them to international specialty coffee buyers. Sinesso farmers fulfilled TechnoServe selection criteria and were able to construct and operate a wet mill in 2009. Prior to the introduction of a wet mill, Sinesso farmers would sell their coffee as red cherry in markets or to another private mill. In both cases, the farmers received low prices and thus were unable to benefit from their coffee farming. The average price in the market was 3 birr/kg for red cherry. Wet mill operation began in 2009 and is expected to produce a 50% overall boost in farmer income. In 2010 they purchased another wet processing machine from the bank, further boosting their production. After wet processing, farmers were able to sell their coffee for 7 birr/kg in the market and have already gained a net profit of 265,000 birr. Their coffee received a cupping score of 81%, a CPQI of 14, and a 4.92 to 1 cherry to parchment ratio. Over 2,575 ha are dedicated to coffee cultivation. On average, each family has 1 ha of coffee plantation. In 2010, the cooperative processed over 235,000 kg of red cherry. This Coffee Arabica is grown in the natural forest of the area. Farmers plant seedling varieties, prepare the land, use shade trees, mulch, intercrop, and weed in order to improve their coffee quality. There is no use of agrochemicals in the process. The mill receives water from a nearby perennial river by gravity. The pulp produced in processing is used for composting in a dugout pit or covered by soil above ground. The excess water is treated by strips of vetivar grass and evaporated in a lagoon area. The wet mill has hired an administrative staff of an industry manager, an accountant, storekeeper, guards, and daily laborers. There is also access to clean water and pit latrines on site. The cooperative was reorganized with 112 farmers and has grown to include over 600 farmers of the area. They have 2 wet mills and a dry processing machine.
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.