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Sidama Bensa from Bombe Village, Ethiopia

People

Bombe (or Abore) washing station is named after Bombe mountains in the Sidama region, which is located south from the washing station. The Bombe site is the culmination of several years of hard work and preparation from Sidama coffee man Asefa Dukamo and his family. 

The producers of Bombe live high in the lush and lovely Bombe mountain valley. They are part of a member organization consisting of 667 producers in various parts of the mountain range, which also include producers from Keramo and Shantawene. The last two years, these producers chose to process their coffees through the Bombe Washing Station to new quality specifications. Like the other coffees from this site, the Bombe coffees always stand out on the cupping table.

Daye Bensa is a coffee export company, founded by the brothers Asefa and Mulugeta Dukamo, in 2006. Asefa and Mulugeta have lots of experience, and started out as coffee suppliers in the Sidama area. The younglings of the family have also joined the company as Daye Bensa started to grow, and now Gentlemen like Kenean, schooled in the USA work at commerce and finance, and Eliyas on Quality. This high spirited family company supplies us now for the second year, and we are already planning for the third.

The company owns a farm, and works with various communities of outgrowers with whom the organise cherryh production. Daye Bensa farm is located at the heart of Shantawene Village within 10km from Daye town in the midst of natural forest and indigenous trees which are expected to be older than 200 years. The farm is at the reachable distance to out-growers in Bombe, Shantawene and Keramo villages. It is surrounded by rivers, one of them separating Shantawene from Bombe  which runs from the hills above Karamo. The out-grower farmers are from adjacent villages from our farms and are not members of any other similar coffee producing company. Their membership is based on voluntary bases agreeing to follow a good practice coffee farming which ensures sustainability and traceability.

Daye Bensa works with multiple washingstation, most of which we are still to explore. Their main washingstation is situated at Shantawene, other important ones are Keramo, and Bombe (Abore). This year (2020), Daye Bensa won the 7th place in the Cup of Excellence with their Assefa Dukamo Korma Natural, grown on Assefa’s farm and processed in Shantawene station. Read more about Daye Bensa, and their experience as a winner of the Cup of Excellence, in our blog series.

Product

cropster-1

Bombe cherries are processed at Bombe(Abore) Washing Station. On the Shantawene site, Daye Bensa processed the #7 Cup of Excellence lot, and is investing in upgraded processing equipment, and experimenting with honey and anaerobic fermentation. So far, Bombe, Shantawene and Keramo coffee continues to stand out as a team favorite on the cupping table. The beans are very dense coffee, with heavy concentrations of the smaller screen sizes (the majority of the coffee screen sizes at 13-14) which is highly unusual and reflects the higher elevations where the coffee is grown. Another station we worked with in the past is Damo station. 

Price

In Ethiopia during this season we experienced a cherry price increase from around 15-17Birr/kg to 20-24Birr/kg which benefits the farmers.

Daye Bensa paid prices around 19 Birr per kilo during the purchases of cherry this year, with  a yet undefined second payment for their farmers due in July.

What you are about to read, is my interpretation of what we have seen, experienced, and what has been told to us directly. 

As the number of exporters increase, and the price of cherry rises, a lot of exporters see their profits in jeopardy. The reality in rural Ethiopia is that your competition can act very unpleasantly, if you start a price ‘war’ to secure more cherry. That way, one of the strategies to pay your farmers well and keep them dedicated in their role to produce great coffee, while keeping the competition at bay, is to organize a second payment for when competitive emotions have settled, and the coffee season is over. The other way to look at this, is that making these types of inter-exporter price agreements is actually damaging to the farmers independent position, and relies on the responsibility of the exporter to share the profits with the farmers.

In Ethiopia, many coffees are produced by washing stations that buy cherries from smallholder farmers. This year, the cherry price in Ethiopia, has been very high as compared to other years, even with a low C-market price. The reason for this is the local competitiveness on the cherry market. Difficult climatological conditions, the harvest, especially in Sidamo has been very low. While policy changes and liberalization in the coffee market, the number of exporters competing for cherries rose significantly. This situation created a ripple effect over the entire country, which turned to the farmer’s benefit. Although cherry prices last year were as low as 10 ETB, this year they average around 20-24 ETB, across the country. Although it seems like Daye Bensa pays a relatively competitive price for their cherries, we have to conclude we don’t yet understand the full extent of the price buildup. Daye Bensa declared that regional political and competitive variables played a role in not being able to pay more to the farmers up front, and indicated that a second payment is meant to even the books with the farmers. We will keep exploring the Price element of our business with Daye Bensa, and will provide as much insight as we can into the realities of Ethiopian Coffee Business.

Planet

All of the coffees coming from Daye Bensa, our exporter are certified with Organic Certifications, namely:

  • UTZ certification: UTZ certified coffee is traceable from producer to roaster to consumer.
  • NOP certification is needed for those who want to export their products to the US labelled as 100% organic. More information: here.
  • EC – EU declaration of conformity
  • JAS – Japanese Organic Regulation
  • RainForest Alliance: The RainForest Alliance is an international non-profit organization working at the intersection of business, agriculture, and forests to make responsible business the new normal, to protect forests, improve the livelihoods of farmers and forest communities, promote their human rights, and help them mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.
  • In 2020 Daye Bensa received the organic certification for exporting fully organic crops next year!

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