Nano Chala is a relatively new cooperative, established in 2010. Located in an area that’s building a reputation for coffees with spicy and intense flavours.
The cooperative’s management has focused on quality production from the start. A lot of the coffees are grown at altitudes of 2000 metres or higher, which reduces the yield from each plant but gives more intense flavours in the remaining coffee cherries.
Waste water from coffee production is naturally filtered using grasses before it goes to storage pits, and then finally in to the ground.
A success story
This coffee is a result of a project with Technoserve, a nonprofit organisation that develops business solutions to poverty by connecting people in the developing world with information, capital and markets.
Working with Technoserve in 2010, the Nano Chala Cooperative was formed and purchased a wet mill with a depulping machine, producing washed coffee for the first time. In their first year they were able to pay off this debt, and have now purchased another depulper to increase capacity.
The higher quality coffee brings better prices, which are returned back to the farmers, encouraging more farmers to join the cooperative. They remain free of long term debt due to the high premium earned by their coffee’s quality.
With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a project helping Ethiopian coffee farmers started in 2007. It aims to create a mutually beneficial relationship where private exporters provide ongoing support and training to rural coffee processing stations known as wet mill cooperatives. With such relationships in place, donors are able to then leave once a sustainable system can continue without their support.
Technoserve establishes a farmer training program, known as “farm college,” which educates smallholder coffee farmers on sustainable agronomic practices to increase their yield. It also provides business support to farmer cooperatives to establish or upgrade low-cost rural coffee processing stations known as wet mills, and improve coffee quality.
The project in Ethiopia supported farmers in setting up washing stations and new cooperatives. They had first significant success with the Duromina cooperative, in the same region as Nano Chala, was recognised by Taste of Harvest as the best coffee in Africa in 2012’s harvest.
The nonprofit’s management team emphasise data and performance monitoring, which allowed TechnoServe to estimate the return on investment from the initiative: their early work in Rwanda reached a positive return over ten years. What they learned in Rwanda allowed the project in Ethiopia to deliver returns more quickly, breaking even within four years.
You can also watch a (detailed) video about Technoserve from a presentation at Google, or make a donation to Technoserve.