The creation of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) in 2008 significantly limited full traceability back to specific farmers. In response, Royal established the Single Farmer Lots Program to separate single farmer lots from the larger cooperative blends sold through the ECX.
The foundation for directly purchasing single farmer lots began in 2012. Yearly farm visits from Royal CEO Max Nicholas-Fulmer and regular communication with farmers through Haile Andualem, Royal’s representative on the ground in Ethiopia, has been an essential component for ensuring that farmers and washing stations are following strict farm management and post-harvest protocols. The results have been an ever increasing number of 89+ lots with higher returns for the individual producers.
Tilahun Dullo cultivated this single farmer lot on his 12-acre farm near the town of Idido in the Yirgacheffe growing region, which has long been known as one of the best sources of coffee in the Gedeo region of Ethiopia. Tilahun has been cultivating coffee for his whole life but this is the first year, with the help of the single lot program, that he has been able to sell his coffee as a micro-lot. Coffee is Tilahun’s main source of income that he uses to support his wife and 10 children.
Ripe cherries for this natural processed coffee were delivered to the Idido washing station and carefully hand sorted and floated to remove less dense coffee beans. Next the cherries were dried on raised beds for 15 to 20 days and turned regularly to avoid over-fermentation and mold. Raised beds are carefully constructed to ensure proper air circulation and temperature control, for optimal drying. Cherries were covered during the afternoons to prevent harsh drying in the intense sun. Once the cherries have dried to 11 percent moisture, they were transported to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to be milled and prepared for export.