The Oromia Regional State is Ethiopia’s largest, including more than 110,000 square miles and 35 million people. It touches the borders of both Kenya to the south and South Sudan to the west, and includes Ethiopia’s massive capital city, Addis Ababa, along with 65% of Ethiopia coffee growing territory, as of 2014. There are a number of famous coffee regions included in full or in part in Oromia: Jimma and Illubabor in the west; Harar to the northeast; Arsi, bordering Sidama in the mid-south, which produces many similar terroirs; and the Guji Zone, where Royal also works with a diversity of forward-thinking growers and processors.
The Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU) is an umbrella organization established in 1999 by 34 individual cooperatives interested in centralizing resources and gaining leverage in the export market. As of 2020, OCFCU supports more than 400 individual cooperatives--more than 400,000 households, by far the largest unionization of farmers in the country. Premiums from coffee exports are returned directly to farmers, and the union also funds organic farming programs, mill equipment purchases, and food security programs. OCFCU has established a central cupping lab to support quality control and is a founding shareholder in its members’ bank, the Cooperative Bank of Oromia, that provides pre-harvest financing and crop insurance; both resources historically unavailable to rural farmers in Ethiopia.
OCFCU has been Fairtrade and Organic certified since 2002 and ever since has been one of the world’s largest suppliers of Fairtrade coffee.