Established by farmers growing organic coffee Arabica, Michiti farmers cultivate their coffee on family owned plots and in surrounding forest areas. These farmers also grow various food crops such as maize, teff, beans, barley, and vegetables for domestic consumption and to supplement their income. Farmers also rear animals such as sheep, goats, and chicken to support their community. Found in the SNNPR, Kaffa Zone, and Gimbo woreda, the Michiti cooperative neighbors the birthplace of coffee Arabica. The Michiti cooperative can be accessed year round and is about 494 km from Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa and 133 km from the TechnoServe Office in Jimma. Michiti land is mainly rugged and marshy. The coffee is cultivated and processed at altitudes between 1,600 and 1,900 meters. The cooperative spans a total of 4,412 hectare. Of this land, 1,194 ha is covered by forest, 32 ha is grazing land, 1,830 is cultivatable land, 290 ha is dedicated to perennial crops, 1,054 ha is used for annual crops, and 12 ha is dedicated for other purposes. TechnoServe Ethiopia’s Coffee Initiative supports the Michiti cooperative by providing business advice and resources to improve quality and increase production of coffee. With this enhanced production, Michiti farmers are able to raise their standard of living and further enrich their livelihoods.TechnoServe directly collaborates with farmers to enhance the Michiti market chain through the service provider, Kaffa forest coffee farmers Union and connect them to international specialty coffee buyers. The Michiti cooperative was able to fulfill TechnoServe selection criteria and receive a loan 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, Michiti farmers were unable to benefit from their coffee business. Wet mill operation began in 2010 at an altitude of 1,884.5 m and is accessible for cherry collection and parchment transportation. With increasingly strong leadership and commitment of members, the cooperative is able to efficiently produce high quality specialty coffee. Michiti coffee received a cupping test result of 84% and is purchased at $3.05 per pound. Total coffee plantation covers 1,019 hectare with households averaging 1.18 hectare. In 2009 and 2010, red cherry production reached 509,500 kg and 407,600 kg respectively. Michiti coffee is cultivated within the forest and on family owned plots. Farmers grow the coffee in shady areas and utilize mulching and agroforestry practices. The coffee is completely organic and no agrochemicals are used. The wet mill receives clean water from a nearby naturally flowing river. Processing produces no contamination or pollution, as excess pulp is decomposed and used as a natural fertilizer. Wastewater is filtered through vetivar grass planted covering the entire site. 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. The area has 2 Peasant Associations compiled of 5,062 people, 2,467 men and 2,595 women. There are over 240 members of the Michiti 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.