The Cocola cooperative was registered in August of 2007 with an original 43 members. Although coffee serves as a staple cash crop of the area, these farmers also produce other crops such as corn, maize, and teff. They also rear animals such as cows and goats to supplement their income and for domestic consumption. Farmers use their income for children’s schooling, clothing, and ceremonies, along with inputs for their farms. The cooperative has grown to include over 190 members and is steadily growing. The cooperative is found in southwest Ethiopia’s Oromia state, Jimma zone, and Gumay woreda. It is 62 km from the town of Jimma and 412 km from Addis Ababa. The main road is located roughly 100 km away. The surrounding area is mostly hilly with undulating ridges. The coffee catchment area can be found between 1,600 and 1,900m altitude. The wet mill is located at 1,750m. The total area dedicated to coffee cultivation reaches roughly 800 ha. The majority of the land is covered by coffee, and the rest is used for maize and teff. The Cocola cooperative receives support from TechnoServe’s Coffee Initiative that began in 2009. Cocola farmers receive technical support and business advice so they can enhance their production and improve their coffee quality. These advancements help Cocola farmers earn larger incomes and fight off poverty. TechnoServe directly works with farmers to better their market chain through their service provider, the Oromia Union, and connect them with international buyers. In Octorber of 2009, Cocola farmers fulfilled TechnoServe selection criteria and were able to construct and operate a wet mill. Before the cooperative acquired a wet mill the farmers would sell their coffee in local markets at prices determined by private traders. Farmers were unable to better themselves through coffee farming because of the depressed prices. Wet mill operation began in 2009 and is expected to produce a 50% overall boost in farmer income. They constructed a large wet mill with local resources that has a capacity of 300 tons. The coffee has recently received a cupping score of 88 points, a CPQI of 14, and a cherry to parchment ratio of 4.48. With over 800 ha dedicated to coffee cultivation, the cooperative was able to process 139,424 kg of red cherry in 2010. The wet mill and coffee growing area are between 1,600 and 1,900 m altitude. Farmers manage their trees by shading them in the natural surrounding forest. They have planted improve seedling varieties that are optimal for their area and resistant to disease. Farmers prepare the land, plant in rows, weed, use trees for shading, mulch, prune, and practice other crop management skills in order to produce high quality coffee. The processing system is very environmentally friendly. The pulp created during processing is used in compost preparation and to be reused as fertilizer. The excess is treated by planted vetiver grass and a dugout lagoon. 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. The cooperative has grown to include over 190 farmers of the area and it 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.