Bette Buna Megadu

Our farm in Guji

When our grandfather Syoum passed away, our grandmother visualized her dream at their 2-hectare coffee farm to us: “Please, make from our farm a home. A place where all community members feel safe, can learn, and work together to grow a beautiful future.” 

Working in Guji comes with a lot of unique challenges as well as a lot of amazing rewards. Guji is world renowned for incredible naturally processed coffees and it is a huge privilege to work there directly. The Guji Zone sits just south of Sidamo where we first started Bette Buna, but it is a whole different world in terms of its culture and customs.

Guji, beautiful coffee and strong partnerships

Guji has strong cultural traditions and to work in this region we knew we’d need to approach it as a partnership with local community leaders. People who are deeply rooted in these traditions and these communities. Our farm or perhaps more accurately plot is about a quarter of a much larger collection of plots owned by three Guji community leaders, our plot is about 50 of the 220 hectares they are responsible for. Gash Duba, Ato Wodessa & Ato Saffay are elected leaders who hold the title of Abbaa Gadaa, they are incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to coffee cultivation but also extremely well respected decision makers. Working with these Abbaa Gadaa has been a big success that we’re really proud of.

A special place to grow coffee

Guji is very mountainous and densely forested, the soil is rich and the potential there for coffee is spectacular, all of these elements come together to make it one of the most exceptional coffee growing regions in the world. It would be a mistake to think Guji’s reputation is purely down to environmental niche. People have been growing coffee here for a long time and the farmers here are very skilled and knowledgeable. Cultivation has been happening here for the last 100 years or so but before that coffee grew wild in the Guji forest and was harvested and more informally farmed for 500 years, possibly longer! So coffee is a hugely important part of the culture here and there is a lot of passed down knowledge and skill. People take good care of their farms and the soil is very rich for coffee growing, leading to very healthy plants and good fruit. When it comes to harvesting the picking is very skilled, people take a lot of pride in their coffee and only pick the good ripe cherries.

A win-win collaboration

The farm is a big beautiful forest, and within its 220 hectares sits our plot, which is around a quarter of the total farmland owned by the three Abbaa Gadaa. As with our Taferi Kela farm our work in this region started as a small pilot. We took a small plot to see how well the collaboration would work. We needed to know the project would be a win-win for us, the Abbaa Gadaa and the communities that they represent. We always try to build incrementally so that we have an opportunity to find any potential problems before investing too heavily or taking too much risk. Thankfully this collaboration has been a huge success, massively exceeding our expectations both in terms of coffee quality and impact.

Learning and teaching

Guji is well known for producing exceptional coffees, in particular natural process ones. We’ve learned a lot from the farmers we work with there about good farm management, cultivation and generally the health of farms there from soil to plant is really really good. We’ve had the opportunity to add value there by teaching people other processing techniques. We have a mill there and we process lots from our plot but also the surrounding plots, many as naturals but also washed and some experimental processes such as anaerobic / anoxic. This is a big example of that win-win relationship we aspire to as we are learning and improving our coffee growing and processing in a way that is collaborative and beneficial not only for us but for the wider coffee growing community.

Future plans and aims

Our aim in Guji is of course to produce great coffee but beyond that it is about collaboration and by working with these incredibly important community leaders we can not only learn and share knowledge and success securing better prices for our coffees and theirs. We hope we can also institutionalise changes in approach that will have far more wide reaching influence than we would ever be able to achieve working on our own.

Megadu Farm details

Region: Guji
Woreda: Megadu
Kebele Megadu

Established by: Gash Duba, Ato Wodessa, Ato Saffay
Current farmers: Dawit & Hester Syoum-Westerveld, Gash Duba, Ato Wodessa, Ato Saffay
Farm team: 60 regular employees + 900 seasonal
Varieties grown: Enat Buna, JARC 74112 
Altitude: 1990-2200 MASL
Harvest: Nov-Dec

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