Founded in 2008 by farmers working on family owned plots, these farmers produce organic coffee near the birthplace of coffee Arabica. The coffee is cultivated under the natural shade of trees surrounding the farmer’s land. Tencho farmers also produce various food crops such as maize, teff, beans, barley, what, pea, oil crops, along with various fruits and vegetables for domestic consumption. Along with these food crops, the farmers also raise animals such as cows, sheep, goats, and chickens to supplement their coffee income. Most Tencho farmers live in circular thatch homes without running water or electricity. Tencho is found in southwest Ethiopia, Oromia state, Jimma Zone, and Limu Kosa woreda. The site is 67 km from the city of Jimma and 8 km from woreda capital Limu Kosa. The site can be accessed during dry season by a road 3 km away. The coffee catchment areas are between 1,700 and 2,000 m altitude in a mountainous area with undulating ridges and natural forest. The land around the cooperative spans 2,000 ha. Of this area, over 1,000 ha is dedicated to coffee cultivation. TechnoServe’s Coffee Initiative supports the Tencho 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, Tencho farmers are able to raise their standard of living and fight the conditions of poverty. TechnoServe collaborates with farmers and acts to enhance the Tencho market chain through their service provider, the Limu union, and also connects them to international specialty coffee buyers. Tencho 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, Tencho farmers produced lower quality coffee and sold it for decreased prices determined by private traders. In 2009, the average price for coffee was 3.5 birr/kg for red cherry and 7 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. There are over 200 farmers within just 3 km of the wet mill. The mill has a clean turbidity and depths between 0.5 and 1.0m. Tencho’s operating cost is below 12% and they estimate a profit of over 10,000 birr. With these advancements, the coffee received a cupping score of 87.5 points, a CPQI of 14 with a cherry to parchment ratio of 21%. Over 1,000 ha are dedicated to coffee cultivation, and with a wet mill operating at 1,700 m altitude, the cooperative 92,391 kg of red cherry in 2010. Tencho 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. The farmers also do not use agrochemicals, as their coffee is 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 roughly 650 farmers in the area that are organized in Peasant Associations. Tencho has 181 members with 245 potential 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.