We where somewhat overwhelmed by the reception we got. Some kilometers before we arrived at the mill the first farmers joined us on their motorbikes. Driving in cortege in front of us, honking their horns. When we arrived to the village Halo Beriti the number of motorbikes has increased to around ten and we where joined by a lot of kids running along side of the car cheering.
When we drove in the gate of Metads mill, the guards saluted us with gunfire in the air. And at the mill where some hundreds of farmers gathered.
We didn’t expect any of this and where very surprised to see how big an event the starting of the harvest was. This was obvisously tradition in that area. We were just very happy to be able to vitness and be part of the celebrations.
At the mill we had the chance to talk to some of the few farmers speaking English as well as witnessing the formal activities in the opening ceremony.
First the priest of the local religions where blessing the people and the harvest. They were a group of beautifull elder men in traditional closes. Next the local protestant priest was making his blessings and after that Aman Adinew had a small speech as well as time for Q&A with the farmers. After that Geoff Watts took the word and on behalf of us roasters complimented thankfully the farmers for all their good and hard work.
All in all a very unique experience that was very impressing and humbling.
During our days with Metad we were staying at their Alaka mill in Hambela. Visting the local peasant associations (called Kebeles) of Benti Nenqa and Buku. The last being one of the most beatifull valleys I have ever seen. Buku also means “Blessed Valley”, which looking around in the valley became very obvious in terms of the landscape
At these places we met lots of farmers and Aman explained us about the new structure for educating the farmers. For every 40 farmers that delivers to their mills, they have assigned one lead farmer who they then use extra ressources on educating on good field practices for rasing yields and quality as well as picking practices. And the very unique thing – all advises are based on organic princibles. The very unique thing in Ethiopia is that at university the agronomists is normally educated in organic farming princibles whereas in most other countries (also in Denmark) conventional farming princibles is the norm for agronomical education!
It was impressing to see how healthy the trees at Metads Hambela Estate look since very often when one sees organic coffees trees they look to be less healthy than good grown conventional coffees. But at Hambela Estate Metad proves that you can produce high quality organic coffees and have healthy producing trees. The secret being actively applying organic farming princibles to the lots. Manual weeding, making soil tests and fertilizing with compost when the soils needs it and for sure a lot more that I’m not aware of. The farm manager Dellnesaw definitely knew a lot about what he was doing. I would have loved to have had the chance to spend even more time with him because he definitely posses a lot of very important knowledge in this field.
A while ago we had planned with Geoff to travel to the areas of Hambela and Gedeb. The idea was to meet up together with Aman to discuss how we, together, could build a project aimed at increasing quality and transparency from the already amazing level Metad works with. Our approach is based on the idea that we want to work towards these goals whilst respecting the local structures and being patient to bring more sustainability to the project.
During the time we spent together with Aman and Geoff it became very clear that we have very similar visions of what we want to achieve. All parties are very dedicated to work patiently in order to make things happen in a sustainable manner. It's critical that we respect the local structures but continuously and relentlessly try to push for better quality, more transparency and to empower the farmers.
As the celebration of the start of the harvest indicates, there was no coffee at the mill at the time of our visit and as souch there of course also was no coffee for us to try at this moment.
But the whole visit meeting with farmers and Aman and his brother Tariku Adinew of Metad as well as Dellnesaw has definitely made me understand both how great a work they are doing in terms of quality and transperancy and being how visionary they are in their approach to the business in Ethiopia.
For now, I’m just looking extremely much forward to getting home and drink some of their coffee we still have on the shelves from Halo and Alaka.