Profile: OROMIA COFFEE FARMERS CO-OPERATIVE UNION, ETHIOPIA
Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union (OCFCU), the largest Fairtrade coffee producer in Ethiopia, was founded in 1999.
OCFCU members are dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship and social justice in their communities. Women hold prominent positions throughout the organisation and all six varieties of OCFCU’s award-winning coffee are produced with organic techniques in bird-friendly conditions. The co-operative was Fairtrade Certified in 2002. Today, OCFCU sells its coffee to Fairtrade markets in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia.
Oromia has 217 member co-operatives, with 202,397 farmer members, including 22,302 female farmers. The membership is growing every year.
Women hold prominent positions throughout the organisation and all six varieties of the co-operative’s award-winning coffee are produced with organic techniques in bird-friendly conditions. Today it sells its coffee to Fairtrade markets in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia.
Benefits of Fairtrade
The Fairtrade price and additional premium have enabled Oromia to establish various social and productive programmes. They have also enabled them to increase sales and revenue every year since becoming Fairtrade – in 2011 net revenue was increased by 84%.
‘FAIRTRADE HAS DEFINITELY HELPED OUR COMMUNITY—IT HAS HELPED US IMPROVE OUR SCHOOL AND WATER SUPPLIES. IT HAS ALSO MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE IN THE PRICE WE GET FOR OUR COFFEE WITH THE GUARANTEED PAYMENT’
WORKINEH HELDAJA, OCFCU member
Member co-ops have built 15 schools and 42 additional classrooms with the Fairtrade Premium, and four new schools are underway.
OCFCU finances training given to member farmers in sustainable farming methods by development agencies. OCFCU’s coffee is forest-grown, organic, and bird-friendly. Member co-ops have invested in washing stations to process members’ coffee, and OCFCU has developed a fund for repairing their equipment. OCFCU has provided loans to five member co-operatives to purchase eco-friendly machines to prepare washed coffee. The co-operative also encourages and supports members to intercrop coffee plants with citrus fruit and bananas for consumption, and has distributed 200 beehives to members.
OCFCU provides training for its members on organic farming techniques such as composting the by-products of coffee production and utilising shade trees and natural fertilisers.
OCFCU is the biggest shareholder in the Co-operative Bank of Oromia, which it co-founded in 2006. This has enabled member co-operatives to easily access loans, which is vital in enabling them to purchase members’ coffee and provide other services.
OCFCU has funded the construction and operation of four local health clinics and has also established 56 clean water supply stations for coffee growing communities.