Level Ground purchases coffee from the Fero Co-op of the Sidama Coffee Farmers’ Union. The co-op has approximately 3000 member farmers representing a total population of around 27,000 people—yes, 8-9 people per household on average! The co-op has 3 washing stations several km apart, and 11 buying posts for purchase of cherries. All of the cherries are processed at the three co-op washing stations. Processed coffee is sent via truck to Addis for milling and grading, and then is sent to the port of Djibouti, which is a 600 km drive from Addis.
Fero Co-op, Sidama Coffee Farmers Co-op
This coffee is grown in the Sidamo region near Yrgalem. Fero Co-op is approximately 400 km south of the capital of Addis Ababa.
Type of Organization
Fair Trade Certified by FLO (ID 2519) and Organic certified by BCS ÖKO-GARANTIE GMBH
Farmers’ plots are small, often covering less than two acres. Coffee trees are often very old—more than 20 years—and in need of severe pruning. Some coffee trees are 4+ meters tall. It’s common for trees to often produce only 2–3 kg of cherries, where others produce 3-6 kg of red cherries per tree. Coffee is the main source (90%) of income for farmers. Other products they grow include vegetables, fruit and cereal grains. These products are grown interspersed in the coffee plot.
Within walking distance of the village of Yirgalem; the nearest major center is Awasa which is located 45 km to the north.
Late October through December
Some shade grown practices with 30% intercropping
Direct Fair Trade Premiums
The co-op invests Direct Fair Trade Premiums in extra payment to farmers and capacity building.
The Kebede and Aynalem Family
Kebede and Aynalem farm one third of an acre of world famous Sidamo coffee. They are members of Fero Co-op near Yrgalem. Besides cofee, Kebede, like most Fero Co-op farmers grows enset (aka false banana), maise, avocado, bananas, mango, papaya, sweet potatoes and cabage. There is no formal grading system for parchment coffee at Fero Co-op. Farmers bring only ripe red cherries, washing removes 'light beans', and sorting parchment on the drying beds result in very clean parchment coffee going to the co-op union in Addis Ababa. To supplement coffee income, Kebede is going to technical school to become an auto mechanic.