First established in 2000 with 1,000 members, the Busa Bechane cooperative originally worked to allocate commodities and fertilizers to its members. In 2010 with the aid of TechnoServe, the cooperative was reorganized into a wet processing mill site. The cooperative’s current 1,549 members produce coffee as well as maize and teff. In addition to crop cultivation, Busa Bechane farmers rear domestic animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, and chicken to support their communities. The cooperative can be found in southwest Ethiopia in the Oromia regional state, Jimma Zone, and Kersa woreda. It is 37 km from the town of Jimma and a TechnoServe operational office, and 20 km from the closest major woreda of Kersa. The site is accessible during the dry season by a main road located 17 km away. The surrounding area is mountainous, especially at the back of the wet mill that is located at an altitude of 1,748 meters. 90% of the area is temperate and 10% is high land, and the coffee catchment area is found between altitudes of 1,600 to 1,950 meters with clay and sandy loam soil. On average, the area is 280c and receives 1,587 ml of annual rainfall. The area of the Busa Bechane is 10% forest, 53% cultivated land, 11% grazing land, and 8% coffee cultivation land. Of the roughly 22,500 hectare, over 1,800 is dedicated to coffee cultivation. Busa Bechane farmers are assisted by TechnoServe Ethiopia’s Coffee Initiative program. The initiative endeavors to improve coffee quality and increase production quantity in order to enhance the living standard of Busa Bechane farmers. By improving the market chain through their service provider, the Oromia Union, and connecting Busa Bechane to international buyers, farmers will be able to benefit through coffee production. TechnoServe provides business advice and technical support, and also has provided resources for the construction of a wet mill. With strong leadership, commitment, and bank loans, Busa Bechane began wet mill operation in 2010 and now produces high quality specialty coffee. Before operation of a wet mill, farmers would sell their coffee as dry cherry in local markets and price based on the will of traders. Because of this, they were unable to benefit from coffee growing. In 2009 and 2010, the prices for red cherry reached 4 birr/kg and 12 birr/kg for dry cherry. Wet mill operation began in 2010 at an altitude of 1,748m and is expected to produce an overall 50% boost in farmers’ income. With over 1,000 farmers within 3 km of the mill, the cooperative has potential for high amounts of production. Most recently, the cooperative processed high quality specialty coffee with a CPQI of 13.5 points and cherry to parchment ratio of 24.2%. The cooperative dedicates over 1,801 hectare of land to coffee cultivation. The average homestead is roughly 0. 25 hectare and in 2010 total production reached 540,300 kg of red cherry coffee. Busa Bechane farmers grow their coffee under the natural shade provided by indigenous trees. Mostly in small plots and nearby hillsides, the farmers manage their coffee with great attention. There is also no use of agrochemicals in the process, making the coffee completely natural and organic. The wet mill receives clean water from a nearby perennial river. Pulp byproduct created during processing is reused for composting and as a soil fertilizer. Wastewater is filtered by sections of vetiver grass along with a dug out lagoon and evaporation pit. . Wet mill operators, an industry manager, an accountant, a storekeeper, guards, and daily laborers staff the Busa Bechane cooperative. All employees have open access to meet and discuss their work with the management. There is also access to a clean water supply and pit latrines on site. The cooperative has a total of 1,549 farmers. Of that total, 2 are women and 1,547 are men.
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.