Lellisa Halo Cooperative was established in 1997 with 48 founding members. The Lellisa Halo community depends very much on the cultivation of coffee, as they dedicate over 5,000 hectare to coffee production. Farmers also rear animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, and chicken for domestic use. The annual production of coffee plays an integral part in the Lellisa Halo community and serves a major role in determining the community’s living standard. In 2002, the cooperative began a coffee washing business, allowing the cooperative to expand their business practices. Today, the Lellisa cooperative has grown to 102 members and is increasingly benefiting the farmer’s livelihood. Located in the southwest region of Ethiopia, the cooperative is found in the Oromia regional state, Jimma Zone, Shebe Sombo woreda, Halo Godante kebele. The cooperative is 59km from the city of Jimma where a TechnoServe office is located. The wet mill is 3.5km from the main road at an altitude of 1611 meters. The scenery surrounding the Lellisa Halo cooperative is generally mountainous and boggy with mid-highland agro ecology. The Lellisa Halo cooperative spans over 7,860 hectare of land. 5,000 hectare is dedicated to coffee cultivation and serves as the main crop of the cooperative. Farmers cultivate the coffee crops in small plots near their homes and on hillsides under the shade of dense tree canopies. TechnoServe Ethiopia’s Coffee Initiative supports the Lellisa Halo cooperative. The initiative strives to improve business practices and coffee quality in order to improve the standard of living for smallholder coffee farmers. TechnoServe works directly with farmers to enhance coffee quality and improve the market chain through the Oromia Union, which acts as a service provider. TechnoServe also provides connections to international specialty coffee buyers. Farmers sold their coffee as a dry cherry at local markets. They had to sell their coffee for low prices determined by local traders. In 2009 and 2010, average prices were 3 birr/kg for red cherry and 6.75 birr/kg for dry cherry. Because of low prices, farmers could not benefit from coffee. With the fulfillment of TechnoServe selection criteria, the Lellisa Halo farmers were able to receive business advice and technical support to enhance their business. The cooperative received bank loans and a wet mill began operation in 2010 at an altitude of 1611 meters. The new mill allowed increased production with enhanced quality. The cooperative also has increasingly strong leadership and committed members. With these new practices, a 50% increase of income is anticipated for the future. Following these new production techniques and opportunities, Lellisa Halo coffee received a cupping result of 84%, a CPQI of 14.5 points, along with a cherry to parchment ratio of 21.5%. Farmers cultivate coffee on over 5,000 hectare of their land. Coffee crops can be found under the natural shade of indigenous tree canopies. With the introduction of wet mill processing, the Lellisa Halo farmers were able to produce 120,679kg of red cherry coffee in 2010 alone. Lellisa Halo farmers cultivate completely natural organic coffee with no use of agrochemicals such as insecticide and pesticides, resulting in zero chemical contamination. The wet mill receives its water source from a perennial river. The wastewater is channeled to a constructed lagoon that is surrounded by vetivar grass. The pulp byproduct from the mill is decomposed and combined with soil to be composted and used as a natural fertilizer. The wet mill is staged with an Industry Manager, Accountant, Storekeeper, Guards, and daily laborers. Workers have free access to discuss duties with the management, and have access to clean water and pit latrines on site.
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.