Founded in 2009 by 93 farmers working on family owned plots, these farmers produce natural and organic specialty coffee. The coffee is cultivated under the natural shade of trees surrounding the farmer’s land. Kitaber farmers also produce various food crops such as maize, tef, beans, barley, what, pea, oil crops, along with oranges for domestic consumption and extra income. Farmers also raise animals such as cows, sheep, goats, and chickens to supplement their coffee income. Coffee serves as the main source of income for the community found near the UNESCO reserve area of the Yayo forest. Kitaber cooperative is located in western Ethiopia in the Oromia regional state, Ilubabour zone, and Bilo Nopha woreda. The site is 296 km from a TechnoServe office in Jimma. A main road only 5 km away can access it all year round. The area surrounding the site is undulating with coffee catchment areas between 1,700 and 2,000m altitude and a wet mill processing site at 1,700m. The area spans over 591 ha, with 177 ha dedicated to coffee forest and 84.5 ha for plantation coffee. The area has a sandy loam soil type and receives an average annual rainfall of 1,800mm. TechnoServe’s Coffee Initiative supports the Kitaber cooperative. 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, Kitaber farmers are able to raise their standard of living and fight the conditions of poverty. TechnoServe collaborates with farmers and acts to enhance the Kitaber market chain through their service provider, the Oromia union, and also connects them to international specialty coffee buyers. Kitaber 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, Kitaber 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. There are over 300 farmers within the wet mill’s kebele. The farmers offered a coffee that received a cupping result of 84, a CPQI of 14, and a 5 to 1 cherry to parchment ratio. With a wet mill located at 1,700 m altitude, the Kitaber cooperative processed 80,396 kg of red cherry during their 60 day processing season in 2010. Kitaber farmers practice sustainable agronomy to that preserve their land while increasing production. Farmers utilize natural tree shade, mulch, and practice agroforestry strategies such as intercropping and planting new seedlings. There is also no use of agrochemicals, making the coffee completely organic. The wet mill receives water from a perennial river. The pulp byproduct created during processing is used to prepare compost in a dug pit or covered by soil above ground. The excess water is treated in a dug out lagoon and evaporation storage 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 173 members of the Kitaber cooperative. The cooperative fixed assets reach 850,000 ETB including land, buildings, machines, and other tools.
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.