Registered in 2010 with 400 members, these farmers cultivate coffee in a beautiful rural area near the birthplace of Coffee Arabica. Farmers also cultivate some food crops, vegetables, and fruits as well as rear domestic animals to supplement what they earn from their coffee business. Most of the currently 1,417 Kechotirtira farmers reside in circular thatch houses without running water and electricity. With heightened understanding of coffee growing, the Kechotirtira farmers produce a unique coffee with increasingly high quality. Found in southwest Ethiopia’s Oromia state, Jimma Zone, and Limu Kossa woreda, the Kechotirtira cooperative is located only 51 km from the TechnoServe office in Jimma. It is also located only 32 km from the district capital, Limu Genet. A main road 9 km away allows year round access to the site. Located in a mostly mountainous area with undulating ridges, coffee cultivation areas are found in altitudes ranging from 1,800m to 2,000m. The wet mill is found in a bottomland at 1,850m. The area receives an average of 1,500-2,000ml of annual rainfall. The Kechotirtira land is made up of 60% forest, 30% cultivated land, and 10% grazing land. Coffee plantation totals to over 2,000 ha. TechnoServe Ethiopia’s Coffee Initiative supports the Kechotirtira cooperative by providing business advice and technical support to improve quality and increase production of the coffee. With this enhanced production, the smallholder farmers are able to advance their coffee business and better support themselves. TechnoServe directly collaborates with farmers to enhance the market chain through service provider, Limu Union, and connect them to international specialty coffee buyers. Kechotiritra farmers fulfilled TechnoServe selection criteria and were able to construct and begin operation of a wet coffee mill in 2010. Prior to the wet mill, these farmers produced lower quality coffee for lower prices. Kechotirtira coffee was sold at local markets with prices determined by the will local traders. In 2008-2009, the average price was 3 birr/kg for red cherry and 6.75 birr/kg for dry cherry. Due to the low prices, farmers were thus unable to improve their livelihoods through coffee production. Wet mill operation began in 2010 at an altitude of 1,760m and is expected to produce a 50% overall boost in farmer income. The cooperative was also able to acquire a coffee washing machine with a pulping capacity of 2,200kg/hour to further enhance the quality. The mill has a 40-ton capacity with over 200 farmers within 3 km of the site. The cooperative’s operating cost remained below 12% and they already estimate a profit of over 200,000 birr. Farmers produced a high quality coffee that received a cupping score of 87.5%. 2,032 hectare is dedicated to coffee cultivation, with the average household being 1.2 hectares. In 2010, the cooperative produced 209,730 kg of coffee cherry, being a top performer of the Limu cooperatives. The Kechotirtira farmers have extensive knowledge of sustainable agronomy practices. The farmers plant a variety of coffee seedlings on well prepared and managed land. The coffee is grown under natural shade, often intercropped with fruit trees and spices and regularly mulched and cared for. There is no use of agrochemicals, making the coffee completely natural and organic. The mill receives water from a nearby seasonal giver. The byproduct pulp generated during processing is reused in composting processes in a duh pit, or covered by soil if above ground. The waste water is treated in a dug out lagoon and evaporation storage pit and then filtered by planted vetiver grass. Wet mill operators, an industry manager, an accountant, a storekeeper, guards, and daily laborers staff the cooperative. All employees have open access to meet and discuss with the management. There is also access to a clean water supply and pit latrines on site. Of the 1,417 registered members of the Kechotirtira cooperative, 1,338 are male and 79 female. 700 members are organized in Peasant Associations, 670 male and 30 female.
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.