Founded in 2004 by 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. Yayu Zuria 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 Yayu forest. Yayu Zuria cooperative is located in southwestern Ethiopia in the Oromia regional state, Ilubabour zone, and Yayu woreda, the home of coffee Arabica. It is 40 km from the zonal town of Matu, 220 km from Jimma, and 4 km from the woreda capital Yayu. The site can be accessed during dry season by a main road 4 km away. The surrounding area is mountainous and blanketed by green forest, rivers, streams, and fertile soil. The coffee catchment areas can be found from 1,500 to 2,000m with a wet mill at 1,575 m altitude. Temperatures range from 18 to 26 degrees Celsius. Over 2,640 ha are dedicated to coffee, the majority being forest coffee in the surrounding jungle. Farmers also utilize honeybees to produce organic honey. TechnoServe’s Coffee Initiative supports the Yayu Zuria 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, Yayu Zuria farmers are able to raise their standard of living and fight off poverty. TechnoServe collaborates with farmers and acts to enhance the market chain through their service provider, the Oromia union, and also connects them to international specialty coffee buyers. Yayu Zuria 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, Yayu Zuria 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 8 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 marketing, Yayu Zuria coffee received a cupping score of 83%, a CPQI of 14, and has a 5 to 1 cherry to parchment ratio. There are a total of 2,641 ha dedicated to coffee trees, and the average household is about 2 ha. With wet mill processing the cooperative was able to process 52,289 kg of red cherry in 2010 with a mill located at 1,575 m altitude. Yayu Zuria farmers practice sustainable agronomy to 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. Shrubs also cover river stream banks and steep slopes. The wet mill has hired an administrative staff of a manager, accountant, storekeeper, and guards, along with hired daily laborers. There are over 500 farmers within the area, and the cooperative currently has 128 members and is steadily growing.
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.