Established by willing farmers growing organic coffee, the Chiri cooperative is near the home of the birthplace of coffee Arabica Chiri farmers cultivate their coffee on family owned plots and in surrounding forest areas. Chiri farmers also grow various food crops such as maize, teff, beans, barley, and vegetables for domestic consumption and markets. Farmers also rear animals such as cows, sheep, goats, and chickens. Found in the SNNPR, Kaffa Zone, and Decha Woreda, the cooperative resides in the birthplace of coffee Arabica. The wet mill site can be accessed year round and is located about 500 km from Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa and 140 km from the TechnoServe Office in Jimma. The surrounding area is moderately mountainous and blanketed by natural Kaffa forest that serves as an ideal location for coffee cultivation. Coffee growing can be found between the altitudes of 1,401 to 2,130 meters. The cooperative covers a total of 5,090 hectare. Of this area, 1,706 ha is forest, 906 ha is for perennial crops, mostly coffee. Additionally, 1,148 ha for annual crops, 34 ha is marshland, 1,084 ha is cultivable land, 111 ha is used for other purposes, and 101 ha is unable to be cultivated. TechnoServe Ethiopia’s Coffee Initiative supports the Chiri cooperative by providing business advice and resources to improve quality and increase production of coffee. With this enhanced production, smallholder coffee farmers are able to raise their standard of living and further enrich their livelihoods. TechnoServe directly collaborates with farmers to enhance the market chain through the service provider, Chiri Forest coffee farmers Union, and connect them to international specialty coffee buyers. The Chiri cooperative was able to fulfill TechnoServe selection criteria to construct and begin operation of a wet mill in 2010. Prior to the introduction of wet mills and 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 were 2 birr/kg for red cherry and 8 birr/kg for dry cherry. Because of the low quality and prices of the coffee, Chiri farmers were unable to benefit from their coffee business. Wet mill operation began in 2010 at an altitude of 1,727m and produces high quality organic coffee. With strong leadership and committed members, their coffee earned a cupping score of 83 points, a CPQI of 14.5, and a cherry to parchment ratio of 21.6%. The cooperative processed 52.9 tons of red cherry at minimum operating cost of 9%. Roughly 2,600 ha total are dedicated to coffee planation and the average household is about 3.48 acres. In 2009 and 2010, production reached 1,044,800 kg and 783,600 kg of red cherry respectively. Chiri coffee is cultivated on family plots and the surrounding forests. Farmers practice use of mulching and agroforestry and utilize natural tree shade. There is no use of agrochemicals such as insecticide or pesticides as the coffee is fully organic and natural. The wet mill receives clean water from a diverted river. Processing creates no pollution or contamination as the pulp is decomposed and reused as a natural fertilizer. Vetiver grass covers the area and acts as a filtration system for excess water. Wet mill employees, an industry manager, an accountant, a storekeeper, guards, and daily laborers staff the wet mill. Employees have easy access to speak with the management and discuss topics with cooperative leaders. Employees also have access to a clean water supply and pit latrines on site. 5,194 Chiri farmers are members of Peasant Associations. Of these members, 2,652 are male and 2,542 are female. There are also over 310 members of the Chiri 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.