Registered in 2004 with 284 members, these farmers work on family owned plots and produce natural and organic specialty coffee. Coffee serves as the main source of income for these farmers. They also often cultivate food crops, mostly maize, along with vegetables, spices, and fruits to supplement their income. Most of the farmers reside within the area’s dense forest and manmade wetlands in circular homes that lack electricity and basic amenities. The cooperative has grown to include 437 members. The Loko Saya cooperative is located in southwest Ethiopia’s Oromia regional state, Ilubabour zone, and Hurumu woreda, the home of coffee Arabica. The cooperative is 578 km from Addis Ababa, 22 km from the zonal town of Mettu, and 243 km from the town of Jimma and TechnoServe office. A main road only 1 km away can access the site all year round. The cooperative is located in the birthplace of coffee Arabica with undulating ridgelines and dense forest. The coffee catchment area can be found between 1,400 and 1,835 m with a wet mill at 1,773 m altitude. The Loko Saya cooperative land is 894 ha forest, 2900 ha annual crops, 2902 ha coffee, 293 ha fruit and vegetables, 269 ha grazing land, 243 ha wetlands, and 275 ha for various purposes. TechnoServe’s Coffee Initiative supports the Loko Saya cooperative. By receiving business advice and technical support, these farmers have been able to increase production and improve their coffee quality. With these advancements, the farmers are able to raise their standard of living and fight off poverty. TechnoServe collaborates with farmers and acts to enhance the their market chain through their service provider, the Oromia union, and also connects them to international specialty coffee buyers. Loko Saya farmers fulfilled TechnoServe selection criteria and were able to construct and operate a wet mill in 2010. Prior to the wet mill, Loko Saya farmers produced lower quality coffee and sold it for decreased prices determined by private traders. In 2009 and 2010, the average price for coffee was 3 birr/kg for red cherry and 7.5 birr/kg for dry 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. With increasingly strong leadership and commitment of cooperative members, the farmers were able to achieve a cupping result of 86%, a CPQI of 15, and a 5 to 1 cherry to parchment ratio. With over 2,902 ha dedicated to coffee plantation, and an average household of 2.18 ha, the cooperative was able to produce 57,522 kg of red cherry in 2010. The wet mill is located at 1,773 m altitude. Loko Saya farmers have planted a highly productive seed variety resistant to diseases under the natural shade provided by the surrounding forest. The farmers regularly mulch, weed, and manage their plots. There is no use of agrochemicals, making the crop completely organic Coffee Arabica. The wet mill receives its water from a perennial river. The mill does not produce any pollution, as the pulp is used in composting and excess water is treated in a dugout lagoon and storage pit. The farmers take measures to conserve their land and practice sustainable agriculture. 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 over 1,300 farmers in the area around Loko Saya, 347 who are members of the cooperative with many potential new members.
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.