Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, Ethiopia

oromia

Fast Facts about Oromia

Established: 1999

Members: 74,795 as of 2006, 101 cooperatives
Regions: Limu, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, Nekemte, Jimma, Sidamo, Neqemte/ Ghimbi, and Harrar

Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee and yet the fourth poorest country in the world. Coffee farmers live a very traditional lifestyle. Farming less than 5 acres and living in stick houses, electricity, running water and indoor plumbing are rare in rural areas.

The Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU) is an exporting cooperative with offices in Addis Ababa, and affiliated farmer cooperatives located throughout the coffee growing regions of Ethiopia. Oromia was established in 1999 to facilitate the direct exportation of coffee produced by Ethiopia's small farmers and assist in marketing, processing and credit issues. 

Oromia1Oromia is a well organized umbrella organization responsible for processing, marketing, and commercializing coffee for its members. The union is comprised of 101 cooperatives, made up of 74,795 members as of 2006. OCFCU works exclusively in Oromia Regional State, which accounts for 65 percent of the country’s total coffee growing land and includes coffees from Limu, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, Nekemte, Jimma, Sidamo, Neqemte/ Ghimbi, and Harrar. During the 2004 harvest of 2004, OCFCU processed 81,596 tons of coffee (30,415 of which is organic).

To support this work, OCFCU maintains 48 pulperies, 15 hulleries, and 63 warehouses in growing communities supported by 25 employees. Of the 101 co-ops, 11 of them are fair trade certified by FLO - representing 8963 farmers and 13,905.8 tons of coffee.

Oromia2Establishing a direct relationship with the farmers is always an important aspect of Cooperative Coffee’s mission. But as one of their first buyers and the first foreign importer to meet the farmers, the impact appears all the more dramatic in Ethiopia.

“Before people would not come here, but treat us like animals and oppress us,” said the elder Tasew Gebru of the Nagelle Gorbitu Cooperative. “We appreciate your efforts, and to help us improve our lives; we really have seen an improvement in the last two years.”

With their fair trade premiums they have constructed four schools, two health clinics and a clean water supply. They now have a cupping lab located at their office and are in the process of constructing two warehouses. They hope to have their own processing plant within the next three years.

2001 was the year the cooperative joined the Fairtrade Network and we are we happy they did! We have been enjoying their certified Organic Sidamo, Yirgacheffe and most recently, the wonderful and unique Harrar!

Update from Ethiopia! (Winter 2010/11)

hase golaNews from Ethiopia!! Alternative Grounds, Higher Grounds, Bean North and the rest of the membership of Cooperative Coffees is excited about its involvement in the Yirgacheffe School project

This project will result in a 4 classroom school building for the children of coffee farmers who grow the Yirgacheffe coffees we sell to you. The project just got to a great start: Funds have been sent to help cover initial costs, a general contractor has been hired and will be sending regular reports. Below is a summary of the first update from the contractor (pictured left with the community at the contract signing ceremony):

"The expansion of the Hase Gola 2ndcycle school in the Abaya District has been identified for urgent attention. Students go to the school in shifts (morning and afternoon) and the teacher/student ratio is 1:70. This means that many of those who would like to attend school are unable to do so.  Again, it is the case that female students are most likely to suffer from this lack of capacity. HGTC will expand Hase Gola 2nd cycle school in collaboration with the OCFCU, Abaya District Administration Council and local community. The main objective of the project is improving the quality of 2nd cycle school education for both boys and girls of the project area. The project intervention will include construction of 1 learning block having 4 classrooms.

When the construction ends, it will accommodate 480 students / year from 8 feeder schools in 10 Peasant Administrations (PAs), benefiting a total population of over 8700. The school will be constructed and furnished to the standard of Oromia Regional Government and handed over immediately after completion for the soonest service commencement.

The project will leave stake holders knowing that it has the human and financial capacity needed to maintain and improve the school facilities for years to come. The most effective way to ensure the sustainability of a project is to involve the community in all stages of implementation, from planning, to construction to project monitoring and evaluation.  From day one, the stakeholders are partner with a voice, a vote and a clear understanding of the established goals, the materials used, the time invested and the challenges overcome throughout the project implementation."

Do visit www.onthegroundglobal.org/On_The_Ground to learn more about efforts to make education more accessible for rural communities in Ethiopia.