We’re back in Ethiopia for this week’s coffee as we enjoy more of the latest harvest from Africa.
The Hawissa Farmers Cooperative was started in 2007 with just over one hundred members, and has now grown to over 230 farmers. The cooperative focuses on increasing both the quality and quantity of their coffee to raise the incomes of rural farmers.
Their processing station is in southwestern Ethiopia’s Oromia regional state, within the Jimma zone and Gumay district. It’s 74 km from the town of Jimma and 29km from the town of Agaro, both names that may be familiar if you’ve been enjoying our Ethiopian coffees lately.
Coffee processed at Hawissa is grown between 1,600 and 1,720m above sea level, typically alongside crops of maize or teff (a grain used to make Injera, a spongy bread served with stews in Ethiopia) on their plots. The average family holding ranges from 0.125-2.5 hectares. Across the district, around 25,000 hectares is dedicated to coffee.
Hawissa is also a success story from the TechoServe Coffee Initiative, which we’ve featured before. This initiative (funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) works with coffee farmers to provide business advice and technical support, these farmers have been able to increase production and improve their coffee. Hawissa farmers are now able to raise their standard of living and fight the conditions of poverty.
Prior to the introduction of a wet mill, Hawissa farmers would dry their coffee in smaller amounts or sell their coffee as red cherry at prices determined by private traders. In 2010, the average price for coffee was 2.5 birr/kg for red 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. Members constructed a wet mill with local resources at an altitude of 1,646 m altitude. They now have a large mill with a 270-ton capacity and sell at 9 birr/kg in the market. The coffee has recently received a cupping score of 86 points, a CPQI of 13.5 and a cherry to parchment ratio of 4.75 Members of the cooperative were able to cultivate increased amounts of high quality coffee Arabica with a wet mill.
In 2010, the wet mill processed 63,315 kg of cherry and roughly 185 green coffee bags. Farmers plant coffee under acacia and albizia tree shade, apply mulch, slash, and hand weed. Hawisa farmers also plant high quality, high yielding, and disease resistance seed varieties.
There is no use of agrochemicals, making the coffee completely natural and organic. The farmers have created a environmental management plan to protect their natural resources. The coffee pulping machine uses minimal water and the pulp created is used in compost preparation.
A manager, accountant, storekeeper, and machine operator staff the wet mill. The cooperative pays salaries above the national minimum wage, and provides access to drinking water and latrines on site.