After three years of development, Shirkina dry-processed gourmet coffee, produced by ACDI/VOCA’s client Ferro Cooperative in Sidama, Ethiopia, was designated Starbucks’s eighth Black Apron Exclusive. It retailed for $12.99 per half pound. Thanks largely to ACDI/VOCA’s co-op and coffee sector development efforts, beginning in the mid-1990s Ethiopian coffee was transformed from mediocre bulk-traded commodity to today’s renowned specialty product that generates substantial grower returns.
Zerihun Alemayehu, former head of the cooperative promotion bureau in the Ethiopian prime minister’s office, said, “The bureau, supported by ACDI/VOCA with USAID funding, is revolutionizing the cooperative movement in Ethiopia. Cooperatives under the previous command economy regime were characterized by mismanagement, corruption and embezzlement. Farmers were exploited and marginalized from their efforts. The new model cooperatives currently being promoted by the government and ACDI/VOCA are democratic, business-oriented and professionally managed with increased income to member farmers as the primary objective.”