Producer Profiles

OCFCU - Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union

In 1998, thousands of Ethiopian coffee farmers were robbed of their annual harvests. Unofficial traders would visit villages to buy coffee with “dry” checks – empty promises of payment that Ethiopian banks refused to accept once farmers tried to cash them. As a result, the coffee growers received no income for a full year’s work. During this crisis, Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative (OCFCU) was created to help farmers create stronger and more transparent trade relations. The cooperative became Fair Trade Certified in 2002 and it has now become one of the largest coffee cooperatives in the world with over 180,080 coffee growing households. OCFCU places emphasis on specialty and quality coffee; exporting six varieties to the specialty market. They have used their Fair Trade premiums to form over 28 social programs to support small farmers with the Fair Trade premiums they receive from coffee sales.

Coffee communities in Ethiopia suffer heavily from extreme poverty. OCFCU has played a significant role in addressing and solving these issues. Farmers voted to use Fair Trade premiums to implement a wide variety of program ranging from providing clean water, to better access to schools, to building bridges and flour-mills for the community. Clean water is a luxury to many living in poverty. Water is usually collected from still bodied lakes and ponds that contain parasites and waste materials. The cooperative has focused its efforts on building wells that provide malaria-free drinking water for the community. Flour mills have also been constructed within the community so that women don’t have to walk up to 20 miles every day to retrieve water.

OCFCU members are dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship and social justice in their communities. Women hold prominent positions throughout the organization and all six varieties of OCFCU’s award-winning coffee are produced with organic techniques in bird-friendly conditions. Today, OCFCU sells its coffee to Fair Trade markets in the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia.
 

Programs

New Kindergarten

OCFCU has constructed a kindergarten for the Coche Community to help promote early education.

Constructions of Schools

OCFCU constructed three primary and three high schools with last years Fair Trade premium. The three primary schools are finished and now serve the community while the high schools are still currently under construction. The primary schools are for Warka cooperative located in Arsi, south east Oromia, Kolifilfil and Bule Chala, cooperatives in West Oromia. Additionally the high schools are for Kileenso Rasa, Homa and Kilenso Mokonisa which are located southern Oromia.

Intra Cooperative Community Investment

This program will fund the constrcution of roads that roads will imporve access to these remote areas. The roads will also students to travel to school as well as allow for easier communication with neighboring towns. The program will mainly affect two cooperatives- Omo bako in West Oromia of Jimma zone and Kalaltu Hase Gola in southern Oromia.Currently the road for Omo bako has been completed and the other road is still undergoing construction.