ETHIOPIA

Biftu Gudina Lot 6

$3.39$5.92 Per Pound

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Additional information

Country

Continent

Region

Agaro – Kata Muduga Union, Limu

Community Name

Biftu Gudina Farmers Cooperative

Processing Method

Arrival Date

June 2018

Cupping Notes Upon Arrival

guava, Honey, peach, Sweet black tea and blackberry

Elevation

1980 – 2200 MASL

Varietals

Heirloom

Description

Biftu Gudina Cooperative operates in a remote pocket of the Agaro Region in Western Ethiopia. There are no all-season roads, so as recently as 2012 farmers would walk their cherries over 5 miles to the nearest town, Beshesha. On the way, cherry would bruise, break and over-ferment, resulting in poor prices. When the Coop was founded in ’12 it immediately built a wet-mill and constructed a gravel road connecting the mill to Beshesha – with assistance from Technoserve.

Today 155 members within a 2.5 mile radius deliver cherry to their own washing station. Meticulous processing leads to a floral, bright, honeyed cup that shines as an example of world-class coffee from Ethiopia’s western frontier. Perhaps it is appropriate that Biftu in the Oromo language means morning sun and Gudina means growth/development. Whether we are talking about the cup or the community we would agree that “”bright development”” comes to mind.

Recently the coop completed its Organic Certification, funded the development of electricity, and built a kindergarten (1.2M Birr). In 2018 they sold 138,120 kg (About 8 containers) and shared a dividend payment of 2,402,896 birr to their members.

In 2009 Technoserve began working in Ethiopia, on a two-fold mission to (1) improve the value (quality) of coffees produced and (2) to make sure the farmers of that coffee were receiving a higher percentage of the value they were creating. Since 2009, 60+ washing stations have been created, alongside the ongoing field-work and support of Technoserve’s Jimma staff. The approach has been successful by all accounts. Farmers own their own equipment (financed and paid down over time), they negotiate their selling prices, and pay a small commission for processing and export (5% commission + costs). With the quality support and feedback from the Technoserve cuppers in Jimma, they grow better coffee and keep more of the value of that coffee.

This was the work that attracted us to Western Ethiopia and that introduced us to Moata (then a Field Trainer and QC manager for TNS). We still believe it was some of the most effective coffee work we’ve seen. In 2015 the funding for this work ended and the project came to a conclusion. While many of the washing stations that were created had attracted private specialty buyers – the coops were being mismanaged by the Oromia Union, who was only begrudgingly following through on the original agreement it struck with these new businesses. The result was that there was great coffee coming from these coops (Biftu, Duromina, Yukro, Nano Challa) but they were very hard for buyers to get (Ormoia Union was not responsive), often delayed in milling and shipping, and the coops themselves were not at the table to negotiate their own deals. The following year, they left Oromia Union, and founded the Kata Maduga Union, which was anchored by these very successful coops.

Certainly, this was a delicate time and a real test. These farmers were at the top of their game from a processing point of view, but running an exporter is a different ball game altogether. Furthermore, if this new Union failed, the 90 million dollar grant and almost a decade worth of work, might be materially harmed, then disappear. It didn’t fail. It’s grown over the years, it published its second payments, it has heavily reinvested in the communities that it represents and is managed by farmers and coop leaders from the area who serve with integrity.

Kata Maduga and the coops it represents are a textbook illustration of smallholder success in specialty. Every year we wish we could find more customers for these delicate, sweet cups – knowing the rich legacy and courageous past of these producers who took their futures into their own hands.

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