The Baro cooperative was registered in 1998 with 151 founding members. There are now 275 active members of the cooperative with quickly increasing numbers. Coffee serves as the main cash crop of the area, generating the majority of farmers’ income and acting as a staple in Ethiopian culture. Farmers also cultivate food crops like maize, fruit, and vegetables and also make spices for mostly domestic consumption. Most of the Baro farmers live in circular homes that lack electricity and basic infrastructure while surrounded by a magnificent forest and waterfalls. Baro is located in southwest Ethiopia’s Oromia state, Ilubabour zone, and Hurumu woreda, near the home of Coffee Arabica. It is 595 km from Addis Ababa, 31km from the town of Mettu, 243 km from the town of Jimma, and 13 km from the woreda capital of Hurumu. The site can be accessed during dry season by a main road 13 km away. The cooperative is nestled in a forest surrounded by undulating ridges and natural coffee habitats. The coffee catchment areas are between 1,700 and 1,820 m altitude. Baro farmers extend over 2,170 ha of land. Of this, 175 ha are forest and, 994 ha are crops, 580 ha are coffee trees, 97 ha are fruit and vegetables crops, 132 ha is grazing land, 63 ha of wetlands, and 132 ha of land occupied for various purposes. The Baro cooperative began working with TechnoServe in 2010. The farmers receive technical support and business advising in order to increase production and improve quality of their coffee. The tools that farmers have received allow them to form sustainable business practices that increase income and help them fight poverty. TechnoServe directly works with farmers to better their market chain through their service provider, the Oromia Union, and connect them with international buyers. In 2010, Baro farmers fulfilled TechnoServe selection criteria and were able to construct and operate a wet mill. Before the Baro cooperative acquired a wet mill, farmers would sell their coffee as dry cherry in local markets at prices determined by private traders. Before the wet mill, prices were roughly 3 birr/kg for red cherry. These low prices made it difficult for farmers to benefit from coffee. With TechnoServe aid, the cooperative now produces increased amounts of high quality specialty coffee and is expected to see a 50% boost in farmers’ income. The wet mill was constructed with local resources and began operation in 2010 and has a volume potential of over 50 tons. The coffee received a cupping score of 87%, a CPQI of 15, and a 5 to 1 cherry to parchment ratio. Coffee spans 580ha of the farmers’ land. The average household is about 0.66 ha. With a wet mill at 1,768 m altitude the cooperative was able to process 32onomy/Agrochemicals Baro farmers carefully select a variety of disease resistant seeds. Under the shade of natural trees these farmers mulch, weed, and use various agroforestry techniques. There is no use of agrochemicals in the process, making the Coffee Arabica completely organic. The wet mill receives water by a water pump and the farmers take major steps to conserve the environment. The coffee is grown in shade, riverbanks, gorges, and slopes are covered with shrubs to prevent erosion, and the mill produces no pollution. The processing mill is located away from rivers and streams. The pulp is used to prepare composts and excess water is treated by strops of vetiver grass and evaporated in a dugout lagoon area Permanent workers include accountants, storekeepers, and guards. During processing season, the cooperative hires daily laborers that work on drying tables along with nighttime workers. 883 farmers of the area are organized in Peasant Associations, 727 men and 156 women. The Baro cooperative has grown to have 275 active members and fixed assets of 2.5 ha of land, 22 homes, 3 offices, 2 stores, 3 plows, 1 rain mill, and 2 threshers.
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.