Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU), Ethiopia
Tadesse Meskela is a truly unique man who has guided Ethiopian coffee farming into a new era.
Married with 5 children, Tadesse was born in 1959 to a farming family. When he was growing up, there wasn’t a school in his village so had to walk 2 hours to school and 2 hours back each day. He was lucky (and intelligent) enough to be able to take further studies and achieved a BSc in Agricultural Economics in 1981.
He succeeded in getting a job with the Ministry of Agriculture as a team leader at regional level and was rapidly promoted to become Head of Extension and Farm Management. During this time Tadesse took a course on Agricultural Cooperatives.
In 1999, armed with his knowledge Tadesse convinced his boss that the country should form a union (or cooperative) to improve farmers income and produce higher quality and more sustainable coffee. Ten years later the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union is recognised as the first successful coffee cooperative in Africa.
The OCFCU now counts 23,000 farmers amongst its members who belong to 35 cooperatives. Starting with sales of $90,000 OCFCU now as annual sales of $5,000,000.