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Say hello to Kilil, Ethiopia's can-do coffee gamechanger

Every now and then we serve you short stories of the smallholder farmers growing your premium FairChain beans. Now it’s time you meet Kilil, our very own farmer liaison.

Name: Kilil Mesfin
Location:  Addis Ababa
Background: 20 years experience in coffee industry

We don’t say this lightly: Kilil is one of a kind. After earning a degree in horticulture and marketing management, he co-founded the Tega & Tula farm in 1996. If that name sounds familiar it’s because many of our great FairChain achievements have come in collaboration with Tega & Tula.

In addition to having spent 20 of his 40 years on this planet working in coffee, Kilil also earned a coveted Q grading certificate, making him one of a handful of people capable of distinguishing the trazillion different nuances of Ethiopia’s coffee beans.

Currently living in Addis with his family, Kilil regularly goes on field trips for Moyee, educating farmers and organizing training sessions like the one in this video. He is also an active lobbyist with local authorities, helping create necessary improvements and innovations in coffee market regulations. Oh, and in his spare time he is passionately canvassing unchartered coffee territories, scouting out the best coffee for Moyee’s demanding consumer base (that’s you!).

See what we mean? He’s a one-of-a-kind problem solver. According to Moyee’s Impact Officer Mark Kauw, Kilil’s most oft-heard response to almost any question is:”Possible”. What more can you want in a key collaborator? Kilil is just the type of guy capable of driving our FairChain revolution forward!



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Meet our smallholder: Zewde

The very short stories of the smallholder farmers growing your premium FairChain beans. Meet Zewde (not to be confused with Zewdie, of course).

Name: Zewde Shimbi
Location:  Tega
Size of property: 3 hectares
Remarks: is neighbors with his son Zerihun

Zewde is a sympathetic old fellow. He’s older than 60 (though how much older he won’t tell), has a wife and — drum roll please — 13 children (!). He also grows coffee on 3 hectares of land. It used to be more, but he sold 1,5 hectares to his son Zerihun for what he tells us was a ‘very friendly family price’.

Amanuel interviewed Zewde during the 2016 harvest.

Zewde is definitely not the youngest farmer in the neighborhood, but he is one of the most enthusiastic participants of our Call the Farmer program. When Moyee organizes a training, Zewde is there. Zewde isn’t only interested in knowledge; he also is eager to obtain materials he needs for his farm, like poles and wire. Simple items with which he can build drying beds for his coffee cherries.

Like other farmers in the region, weeding takes up a lot of his time and energy. Considering his age, it’s not surprising that Zewde’s first investment will be a day laborer that can do the weeding for him. But labor is hard to find these days, especially because the Tega & Tula farm down the road pays laborers 2 birr /kg of picked cherries, while Zewde is only able to pay 1 birr/kg.

This is a problem we hope we can help him figure out.


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Meet our smallholder: Zerihun

The very short stories of the smallholder farmers growing your premium FairChain beans. Meet Zerihun.

Name: Zerihun Zewdie
Location:  Tega
Size of property: 1,5 hectares
Remarks: son of Mr. Zewde Shimbi

Zerihun is one of our smallholders in Tega, Ethiopia. He is 33 years old, married with one 1 small child. He owns 1,5 hectares of land. He grows forest-shaded coffee on 1 hectare and ‘garden’ coffee on the remaining half hectare. His small piece of land was a gift from his father, also a coffee grower, so he could kickstart his own coffee farm. We followed Zerihun around during the harvest period and watched him spend much of his time weeding and removing parasite vegetation from his coffee plants.

Moyee purchased 87 kilograms of Zerihun’s 2016 harvest. Next year we expect to buy more.

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Meet our smallholder: Terefe

The very short stories of the smallholder farmers growing your premium FairChain beans. Meet Terefe.

Name: Terefe Adego
Location:  Tega
Size of property: 0,75 hectares
Community role:  head of the Gabriel church

Terefe is a central figure in the Tega community. Not only does he head up the town church, but he also teaches the local youth. For a man with some authority, he lives in an extremely modest house with mud walls and corrugated iron roof. Terefe himself is modest as well. Ask him how the farming of his modest 0,75 hectares is going, and he’ll pass on all the credit for his successful harvest to his wife. “She is very strong,” he tells Mark when they meet in his small living room.

While most farmers name ‘weeds’ as their biggest problem, Terefe has bigger issues with wild animals, namely boars and monkeys. These animals roam freely in the Ethiopia highlands and steal the ripe red cherries straight off the plants before Terefe and his wife can pick them.

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This is Zewdie

We’re scoring quality Arabica from little-known smallholders in Ethiopia. Like Zewdie. He’d like to say ‘hello’.

Name: Zewdie Haile
Location:   Tega
Size of property: 2 hectares
Community role:  Officer of Justice & Security

Mr. Zewdie Haile is one of 99 smallholder coffee farmers Moyee cooperates with in Ethiopia. Like many smallholders, Zewdie lives in a small house which he happily opens to anyone looking for a cup of self-harvested, roasted and ground coffee. Coffee is his career and his life – he has approximately 2 hectares of land to grow coffee on. That equals about 6,000 coffee shrubs, good for about 2,000 kg cherries each harvest. He uses absolutely no chemicals or pesticides, and the undeniable quality of his coffee drew us to his home, which he shares with his wife and 7 children, all of whom are in school.

Smallholders can’t go alone, and rely on larger plantations in the area to wash and dry their coffee. Zewdie sells his coffee to the nearby Tega & Tula farm. That’s how we first came into contact with him, because we work closely with Tega & Tula.

While quite typically as a high-quality smallholder, Zewdie is anything but average. He plays an active role in his community as an ‘officer of justice and security’. Everybody knows Zewdie, and his home is often filled with local villagers seeking advice. They also know him because he is one of the region’s passionate activists in uniting the strengths of smallholders in Ethiopia. You see, Zewdie knows his coffee is exceptional, and he also knows that smallholders working alone are powerless against the powerful Western buyers interested in great — and mostly cheap — coffee. We couldn’t agree more.