Founded on July 6th, 2005 by farmers working on family owned plots, members of the Shegole cooperative produce organic Coffee Arabica. The coffee is cultivated under the natural shade of tree canopies found in the natural coffee forests. Shegole farmers also produce various food crops, vegetables, and plant fruit trees for their own consumption. Along with these foods, farmers also frequently keep goats, cows, and chicken so supplement their income from coffee. The Shegole cooperative can be found in southwest Ethiopia, Oromia regional state, Jimma zone, and Limu Kosa woreda. The cooperative site is 12 km from district capital, Limu Genet and 63 km from the city of Jimma. The site can be accessed year round by a main road only 2.5 km away. The area surrounding the cooperative is mountainous with rippling ridges and dense forest. The cooperative site is located in a relatively sloppy bottomland. The coffee catchment areas can be found between 1,700 and 2,000 m altitude. The Shegole cooperative area has 8,950 ha and is 50% natural and plantation forest, 45% cultivation land, and 5% grazing area. Farmers conserve the soil through planting indigenous trees and grasses. TechnoServe’s Coffee Initiative supports the Shegole 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, these farmers are able to raise their standard of living and fight the conditions of poverty. TechnoServe collaborates with farmers and acts to enhance the Shegole market chain through their service provider, the Oromia union, and also connects them to international specialty coffee buyers. Shegole fulfilled TechnoServe selection criteria and were able to construct and operate a wet mill in 2009. Prior to the introduction of a wet mill, Shegole farmers produced lower quality coffee and sold it for decreased prices determined by private traders. In 2009-2010, the average price was 3 birr/kg for red cherry and 6.75 birr/kg for dry cherry. Due to the low prices, farmers were thus unable to benefit from coffee farming. Wet mill operation began in 2009 and is expected to produce a 50% overall boost in farmer income. The mill has clean turbidity and a depth of 0.5-1.0 m. Farmers contributed local supplies to build the mill and currently run at operating costs below 10%. Shegole coffee received a cupping score of 87, a CPQI of 13.5 with a cherry to parchment ratio of 22% after these advancements. Buyers now purchase the coffee at a maximum of $3.50 per pound. Roughly 2,032 hectare is dedicated to coffee plantation, and the average household is about 1.2 hectare. In 2010, production reached 176,741 kg of cherry. Shegole farmers have a high understanding for sustainable agronomy. These farmers plant multiple seedlings, prune regularly, mulch, and implement agroforestry practices. There is also no use of agrochemicals, making the coffee completely organic. The wet mill receives water from a nearby perennial river. The pulp created during processing is used for composting in a dugout pit, or covered by soil above ground. The waste water is treated with vetiver grass and then placed in a dugout lagoon and evaporation pit. Operators, an industry manager, an accountant, a storekeeper, guards, and daily laborers staff the wet mill. There is also access to a clean water supply and pit latrines on site. There are 1,688 farmers in the Shegole area, and the cooperative has grown from 400 to 1,417 registered members in the past 7 years.
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.