When traveling from Addis to the Dimtu Tero Farm, it takes you 1,5 days to get there. If you cross Yirgacheffe, you find the rolling hills and plains of Guji. An entirely different landscape compared to Yirgacheffe. Slightly better roads slide over hilly grassy plains suited for livestock. Although coffee takes a central part in Guji culture, it took years before the Guji people started to use coffee as a cash crop.
But in the early 2000s, the founding fathers of Guji’s rich coffee culture, Haile and Tesfaye, started to farm coffee. The young Getachew Zekele lived through the transformation and, when growing up, became part of it. Although choosing a career in coffee, Getachew grew up in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. The Zekele family moved to the South because of career opportunities for Getachew’s father. A decision that would pave the way for Getachew’s work in coffee.
Getachew remembers how his parents introduced him to a coffee-loving community. “Coffee is a respected crop in the area where I came to live. The community uses coffee as food in rituals and ceremonies, and it is also used as an instrument to bless traditional leaders, Abba Gadaa.”, Getachew explains.
As the Zekele’s settled in, Getachew considered the Tero Kebele as his new home. His plans for the future started to take shape and, although being a city-boy, he chose to stay in Tero because of coffee. “I came with the idea to invest in the area and to work with the community.”, says Getachew. After studying and attaining a degree in Economics, Getachew returned to put his entrepreneurial spirit to the test.
In 2010, he entered the coffee market through the ASB Coffee Exporting Company. Two years later, Getachew opened a washing and hulling station in the Dimtu Tero and Uraga districts. Two new coffee production sites that quickly grew reputation in the community. But his final step came in 2016 when he opened the Dimtu Tero Farm.
Dimtu Tero is a 151-hectare farm semi-forest farm. You won’t notice where the farm begins or ends, because the farm is one with the forests of Guji. Getachew makes efforts to keep nature untouched. His organic coffee production gave the farm its NOP, EU, and JAS certifications. A unique feature for Ethiopian coffee farms. While taking a tour through the farm, Getachew will proudly show the 74110 and 74112 varieties. The Jimma Agricultural Research Center developed these disease-resistant cultivars in 1974.
But before Dimtu Tero Farm opened, Getachew solely sourced from 136 outgrowers that collectively own 989-hectares of coffee land. Small coffee production gardens that surround the Tero, Jelewo Anona, Mancity, and Hangadi villages. The 136 outgrowers give Dimtu Tero priority during harvest because they have a good deal with Getachew.
Each outgrower has a contract with Getachew. It states that Dimtu Tero:
We are partners of Getachew. We work hard on the coffee farming side so that the buyer can pay a fair price for the coffee, and reward us if they are happy with our coffee.”
Besides the Dimtu Tero’s contract commitments, outgrowers have responsibilities as well. Outgrowers are expected to follow all quality training and need to make use of the coffee inputs. Their farms should be in line with natural and sustainable coffee production methods. Also, outgrowers give Getachew an indication of the volume of their yields before the harvest starts. And lastly, they are expected to deliver their cherries on time.
Getachew builds his philosophy on inclusive growth. As Dimtu Tero grows, the outgrowers benefit. Each harvest, the 136 outgrowers receive a premium price that gives them room to develop their farm and family-lives. Getachew believes that growing with the local community leads to greatness. “I want to be one of the leading coffee producers, processors, and exporters in the country that customers trust on quality, traceability, and sustainability.”, says Getachew boldly.