Buna Boka is one of the primary cooperatives of the Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, one of Ethiopia’s best-known exporting bodies. The Sidama union is comprised of 53 coffee cooperatives and over 80,000 member households. Coffees here are earlier than in the far south, delicate, and citric. Sidama has one of the most robust cooperative unions in the country with 53 member cooperatives, many with two or more processing sites—the peachy-floral Homacho Waeno alone has four washing stations, also in the Dara district. There are 1069 farmer members in Buna Boka, who average a single hectare of coffee cultivation each, and the vast majority of coffee produced by the members is fully washed. The coffees tend to be floral and cake-y sweet. Buna Boka was founded in 1975 and functioned independently, as did many coops and processing groups back then, for lack of a greater export network. This lasted until the late 90s and operated largely via a system of local collectors and buyers, who would then deliver consolidated cherry to processors or export auctions. The formation of cooperative unions allowed for voting power and higher farm returns from the direct exportation that unions would be capable of. Certifications, as well, easily earned by the organic methods of Ethiopia’s smallholders and a conscious business plan, could be secured for price protection and marketing purposes, helping vast populations of smallholders gain small but meaningful leverage in the global marketplace that remains to this day.
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