Background StoryHow did it start?
Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers’ Cooperatives Union - Acronym YCFCU, was established in June 2002 for which shortly after, was registered as a cooperative society with its proclamation (No. 147/1998). The union started with 13 member organizations. At the moment, these primary cooperatives were established to serve as a political weapon for the Dergue Regime. These 13 Cooperatives continuously faced interference from the then government as well as other organizing agencies, in their resources and finances and were always exploited and worked under harsh conditions of corruption. After the downfall of the past regime, the primary cooperatives ceased their operations as the socialist model had worn out. They lacked ownership nor governance and in turn, it was no longer profitable to attract the farmers which led to their bankruptcy.
After the cooperative society’s proclamation was enacted, coffee farmers were reluctant to embark on a new cooperative experience. Added to the coffee crisis in the 2nd half of the 1990’s, the primary cooperatives were not ready to get on board until the union was established with formidable credibility. In the years that followed shortly after, the union started growing because it had proved by then that it was respectable enough to act both as a Creditor and Guarantor for the primary cooperatives. This is where the success of Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers’ Cooperatives Union was recorded.
Since then, the union has grown to a membership of 28 Cooperative Unions with over 45,096 farmers supporting over 350,000 Family members.
In the Yirgacheffe region coffee is the main source of income and a way of life. But many farmers lack the tools, training and bargaining power to build profitable businesses.
With prices falling, making a living income from coffee has become a struggle and reaching the international market a challenge for smallholder farmers.
YCFCU was born out of a desire to keep its farmers in business and economically empowered through better organization and new market linkages in the specialty coffee arena.