Oromia Co-op Union, Ethiopia
“To me, Fair Trade means a buying and selling process in which humanitarianism has a big part. It is creating a family relationship between peoples who live on this planet.”
-Tadesse Meskela, General Manager, OCFCU
The Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union started as a result of marginalized Ethiopian coffee farmers, led by Tadesse Meskela, seeking a better price for their coffee. Since 2003, Oromia has grown from 34 founding co-ops to a co-op federation of 217 co-ops. The entire union represents nearly half a million family members. OCFCU has created higher returns for Ethiopian coffee farmers through direct trade relationships with roasters and importers. Using Fair Trade premiums, OCFCU has helped build or upgrade more than 50 schools, 10 health clinics, 80 wells, 8 bridges, and 5 flour mills.
In the early days, most of the Ethiopian farmers were focused on talking about the future. They talked about the impact that a higher Fair Trade price would have on their families’ abilities to invest in new roofs, buy chickens and goats, even soap, but what they were most excited about was talking about creating community infrastructure through the co-op. The co-op creates a forum for community dialogue that may not have existed in the past. It provides a place to study business and economics, develop governance skills and to develop strategies, work with the state or explore non-governmental partnerships, develop product quality, and ecologically sustainable coffee farming practices.
Just Us! works directly with Oromia and imports coffee from the Yirgacheffe, Sidamo and Harar regions. Ethiopia is renowned for its distinctive specialty coffees. It is commonly recognized as the birthplace of coffee and still has thousands of wild varieties growing in its forests.
Name: Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union (OCFCU)
Date Established: 1999
Members: 129 co-operatives, representing 800,000 families
Products: Arabica coffee varietals (Harar, Yirgacheffe, Limu, Sidamo, Jimma, Nekemte), spices (ginger and cardamom), and fruit (papaya, mangos, and avocados), bee-keeping, coffee tourism, cashew nuts
Social Premium Programs:
Building/repairing schools, bridges, health clinic
Clean water access
Access to electricity
Food security projects
Other Projects: Featured in the award-winning documentary Black Gold (http://blackgoldmovie.com/)