The Achebo cooperative was established in 1997 with 150 founding members. These farmers work on family owned plots and produce natural and organic specialty coffee. Achebo farmers also produce various food crops such as maize, tef, and sorghum for domestic consumption and additional income. They also raise animals such as cows, sheep, goats, and chickens to supplement their coffee income. Coffee serves as the main source of income for these farmers, and enables them to send children to school, purchase food and clothes, and practice traditional Ethiopian cultural ceremonies. The cooperative is located in southwest Ethiopia, Oromia state, Ilubabour zone, Yayu woreda. It is 540 km from Addis Ababa and 60 km from the town of Bedele. The site can be accessed during dry seasons by a main road 1 km away. The surrounding area is mountainous with dense forest. The coffee catchment areas can be found between 1,700 m and 1,900 m altitude. Coffee plantation spans over 3,200 ha. Cereal crops such as maize, wheat, tef, sorghum, and barley are also grown. TechnoServe’s Coffee Initiative has supported the Achebo cooperative since 2010. By receiving business advice and technical support, these farmers have been able to increase production and improve the quality of their coffee. With these advancements, Achebo farmers are able to raise their standard of living and fight off poverty in their communities. TechnoServe collaborates with farmers and acts to enhance the Achebo market chain through their service provider, the Oromia union, also connecting them to international specialty coffee buyers. Achebo farmers fulfilled TechnoServe selection criteria and were able to construct and operate a wet mill in 2010. Prior to the introduction of a wet mill, Achebo farmers produced lower quality coffee and sold it for decreased prices determined by private traders. In 2009, the average price for coffee was 3 birr/kg for red cherry. Due to the low prices, farmers were thus unable to benefit from coffee farming. Wet mill operation began in 2010 and is expected to produce a 50% overall boost in farmer income. With the operation of a wet mill with a volume capacity of 270 tons, the price of coffee increased from 3 birr/kg to 9 birr/kg in just one year. Their coffee received a cupping result of 83%, a CPQI of 14, and has a 4.8 to 1 cherry to parchment ratio. Over 3,200 ha are dedicated to coffee plantation, and the average homestead is about 1.2 ha. Achebo was able to process 118,322 kg of cherry in 2010. The wet mill is located at an altitude of 1,616 m. Achebo farmers grow their coffee Arabica in the shade provided by the surrounding natural forest. Farmers manage their plots by planting new seedlings, mulching, intercropping, and other practices. There is no use of agrochemicals, making the coffee completely natural and organic. The wet mill receives water from a nearby perennial river. The pulp byproduct is used to prepare composts or covered by soil above ground. The excess water is filtered by planted vetiver grass and moves into an evaporation pit. The wet mill has hired an administrative staff of a manager, accountant, storekeeper, and guards, along with hired daily laborers. The site also has a clean water supply and pit latrines available for workers. There are nearly 1,000 farmers in the area of the Achebo cooperative. There are currently 111 members of the cooperative and is steadily growing.
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.