Certification of Sustainability: Insights and Guidelines

Kerchanshe Trading PLC. is a family-owned business registered with the Ethiopian Ministry of Trade since 2012. It grows and processes green Arabica coffee for export to North America, Europe, and Asia. Kerchanshe is also a prominent member of many associations such as the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce, Ethiopian Coffee Growers & Exports Associations, and The African Fine Coffee Association.

Kerchanshe grows coffee in their many farms and also source coffee from many smallholder farmers. These coffees are processed through their processing sites located in southern and western parts of the country such as Guji, Jimma, Waleaga, Nekemte, Ilu Abor Arsi, Bale, Harar, and Gedio. The coffee is processed using methods like washed/wet-processed, natural/ dry-processed, and readied for export at the processing factory in Addis Ababa.

To certify the smallholder farmers in and around the coffee preparation/processing sites and help them access international markets KERCHANSHE TRADING PLC has organized a certification support and development office within the main office of KERCHANSHE TRADING PLC in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture. Also, the washing and sundried coffee processing stations in Guji, Jimma, Waleaga Nekemte, Ilu Abor Arsi, Bale, Harar, and Gedio areas area intended to be re-certified for various certification programs such as Organic EU, JAS, USDA-NOP, UTZ, RA, and FAIR TRADE and C.A.F.E practices. Moreover, giving due regard to the community and environment, the company has engaged in sustainable organic coffee production and invested considerably in community and environment development projects.

Objective of Kerchanshe for Small Holder Coffee Producers
  • To support current coffee production practices and relevant Ethiopian legislation on sustainable management and employment issues.
  • To provide training to farmers and stakeholders on coffee production to increase productivity.
  • To develop Long term economic viability of the farmers.
  • To implement sustainable working practices and procedures of coffee production.
  • To improve skills and to improve employment opportunities for farmers at all levels.
  • To enhance the implementation of safe working practices to maintain the wellbeing of the workforce.
  • To create continuous and responsible management of the environment.
  • To provide active contribution to the community in which we operate.
  • To maintain consumer confidence in coffee quality.
  • To minimize detrimental impact on the environment, whilst conserving nature and wildlife
  • To improve the efficiency of the use of natural resources, worker health and safety, consumer health and safety, appropriate workers conditions, and developing attitude local community.
The Small Holder Management System Structure

Currently, Kerchanshe Trading PLC engages with small-scale farmers who own 2-5 ha of coffee plots and are producing Arabica coffee. Most of the lands are virgin lands growing coffee with Enset/false banana intercropped as a shade tree. Farmers also grow sugar cane for local consumption, groundnuts, and sweet potatoes.

Through Kerchanshe’ s ‘Out Growing Scheme ‘the farmers are provided support through the supply of saplings, extension, and follow-up services. The procured coffee is processed either by washed or dry/natural methods through its thirty-six different coffee production sites in Oromia and SNNP regional state. To add value to the coffee supply chain of the nation, the company has engaged in the certification program. Thus, Kerchanshe has implemented various certification standards like Organic Standard, RA/UTZ Standard, Fair Trade Standard, and C.A.F.E practices along with its certification project management structure.

Kerchanshe has also put in place a farmer entrance checking system to verify the history of the land where coffee is grown by member farmers. Most of the land that grows coffee is in the natural forests where there is no history of pesticide and fertilizer usage. This is confirmed by the local community as well as the government agricultural departments.

The company also works closely with other stakeholders like the Federal Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture, Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority, Banks, and local government Agricultural offices in the implementation of the program within the smallholder program.

Fig: Small Holder Management System Architecture

The smallholder program is managed centrally by a coordinator working out of our head office at Addis Ababa supported by coordinators at each site. The site coordinators in turn are supported by field officers at each farmer’s operation level who in turn are supported by lead farmers.

The lead farmers and field officers assigned in the area advise member farmers in growing and handling coffee and their plots as per the company internal control system. The Company’s internal control system interpreted in an understandable /local/ language by the farmers, lead farmers, and Field officers are documented and kept for reference at each central Smallholder coffee farmers organizing site.

In the program, our extension /Field officers / and lead farmers are strongly advised to support and monitor member farmers to grow and handle coffee only by natural means without the use of any artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or other contaminating agents or materials. Any other substance must be stored in a separate place or shall not have any contact with the coffee plot which is used to grow coffee. Farmers are also encouraged to handle coffee by Kirchat (local coffee handling material made from bamboo trees) and to keep coffee cherries in jute bags while transporting to the collection points after harvesting without mixing or contamination with other non-organic crops. Farmers are also encouraged on keeping a record, with dates of all activities that have taken place in the farmer’s coffee plots.

Roles of Each Member of The Company in The Implementation of Certification Standards
  1. CEO

The CEO is responsible for the overall supervision of the program.

2. ICS Coordinator

The ICS Coordinator is the second responsible for the overall coordination of the program. His roles include:

  • Development of a plan for the implementation of the program.
  • Development and updating of the internal control system.
  • Training of site Coordinators.
  • Carry out Risk Assessments.
  • Checking to ensure that the program is being implemented according to the rules of the internal control system.
  • Responsible for the implementation of the program, within the areas.
  • Organizing training schedules with site coordinators and Field Officers within their areas of control.
  • Overall responsible for the training of Lead Farmers and member Farmers
  • Ensure that the demonstration plots under the control of field officers are according to required standards.
  • Ensure that the program is being implemented within their areas, according to the plan and rules of the internal control system.
  • Approval of new entrants into the program.

3. Site ICS Coordinators

The site coordinators are responsible for the

• Identification and mobilization of suitable Field officers in conjunction with the lead farmers.
• Training of Field Officers and Lead Farmers
• Overall guidance of sites and Field Officers

4. Lead Farmer

The lead farmers are responsible for
• Identification and mobilizing the member Farmers.
• Provide training for any member farmers who have been unable to attend the training sessions.
• Develop demonstration plots as per the required standards for use in training.


As a company, we meticulously provide training to each member of the program to increase their knowledge of the different types of certification standards. Training for the Site Coordinators is provided by the ICS coordinators while the Site Coordinators train the field officers.

The field officers gather all the Lead Farmers at a central point for training. All training sessions are to be attended by the member farmers. If they miss due to any reasons, they are informally trained by the Lead Farmers. All attendance registers to be filed.

Membership Criteria for Farmer Members
  1. A farmer who wishes to be included in the company member program; the farmer must first register with the lead farmer in the area.
  2. After the farmer has expressed his interests, a field officer will collect information about ownership of the land including the area in ha, history of the land regarding the use of fertilizer, pesticide, and type of planting material and must be confirmed physically by the lead farmer found in the nearby villages of the prospective farmer.
  3. After the above information has been collected and corroborated by the field officer, the farmer registration process will be carried out.
  4. As part of the Kerchanshe Trading PLC internal certification standards, prospective members who are also members of other organizations’ coffee & nonmember coffee are not permitted to be included in the program.
    5. After inclusion into the program, the farmer will submit his photograph and an ID will be issued for him.

Once registered the farmer’s details will then be entered in an entry book along with details like full name and given code number relating to the year of entry, location of the plot, the area covered by coffee plants. A contract is signed between each smallholder member farmer and the company.

The contracting farmers are then given a farmer file which includes Kerchanshe Trading PLC internal organic standard, company member farmer id, and farmer recording note. The collected information is entered into the Grower List Database.

The farmer register contains the following information.

  • Member farmer’s Names:
  • Code
  • Farm size
  • Farm Location
  • Growing Season
  • Expected Yield

After the Farmer is accepted into the program, the following basic rules apply.

  1. Artificial fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides must not be applied to the plot.
  2. If neighboring plots have been sprayed with pesticides or fungicides the garden will be disqualified.
  3. A Farmer may not plant conventional coffee and other corps as well as coffee in the same plot.
  4. The Farmer must employ practices that will maintain the nature of the coffee and as trained by the field officers/lead farmers.
  5. The Farmer must employ soil conservation techniques to prevent erosion.
  6. Manual weed control techniques are to be used. Weeds should not be burned but used for making compost.
  7. If a farmer wishes to use disallowed substances on a plot other than his coffee plot, he must keep an accurate record of all activities in that plot. However, he may not plant conventional crops in the same area as his coffee.
  8. Equipment used for disallowed substances on conventional crops must not come into contact with equipment used on organic coffee.
  9. Coffee handling bags or facilities must not be mixed with others.

Fig: Summary of Kerchanshe Members Farmers

Fig: Summary of Kerchanshe Members Farmers Certified Production

Geographic Location of The Small Holder Program /Sites

In the first phase of the Small Holder Program, the company is focusing on groups of small holder member farmers which are in Oromia region, and SNNP region. The groups are coordinated from our central management unit from our head quarters situated at Africa insurance, Nifas silk lafto –Sub City, Woreda 3, floor 7.

Fig 4: Map of Adola Site, Anasora Site, Kilinso Mokonissa Site, And Uraga Sites

Fig: Map of Kochere site, Kochere Kore Site, and Tore Gelana Site

Fig: Kerchanshe Trading PLC Sites, Maps and GPS Locations

Fig: Map of Hambella Dekibor Site, Hambella Kiritie Site, and Kercha Rare Site

Fig: Kerchanshe Trading plc Sites, Maps and GPS Locations

Fig: Map of Nensebo Bulga Site, Nensebo Solena Site, And Bale Mountain Farm (Kerchanshe Farm)

Fig: Kerchanshe Trading plc Sites, Maps and GPS Locations

Fig: Map of Limu Beshasha Site

Fig: Kerchanshe Trading plc Sites, Maps and GPS Locations

The Coffee Collection /Buying/ and Transportation Process

Buyers are personnel trained by the ICS manager about the overall buying process. Each buyer will be provided with the list of approved farmers’ name, location and yield estimates where he /she collect /buys the member coffee with calibrated scale. The buyer will also be provided with cash through the ICS coordinator and be expected to produce a daily summary of both cash balances and Coffee cherries bought and delivered to the processing stations.

Identified lead farmers will be assigned at their respective area /Keble/ during the buying period to monitor and ensure the buying process is only from the approved farmers. Moreover, Farmers are asked to present their company ID while they come for delivering coffee.

Each delivery by the smallholder farmer shall be identified by the farmer code identifying the member farmer, its produce and will be registered on the member coffee Buying voucher. A copy of the member coffee buying voucher will be given to the supplier / Member farmer / as a receipt for the coffee quantity he delivered. The cash and stock positions must be communicated to the responsible site manager on daily basis. Summary sheets will be signed.

Each receipt will be listed by code and by farmer name and Kebele while receipt. A summary is made for the collected coffee cherries bought from member farmers at the collection points on daily basis. This enables the origin of the coffee delivered and the remaining amount from each farmer to control the quantity each approved member farmer is delivering on that specific production season. Coffee collected from approved smallholder farmers will be transported to the respective coffee processing and preparation sites by company vehicle prepared for the work.

Social Responsibility

Kerchanshe Trading PLC is used as “an alternative approach to conventional trade that aims to improve the livelihoods and well-being of small producers by improving their market access, strengthening their producers, paying them a fair price with a fixed minimum, and providing continuity in trading relationships.”

Kerchanshe is granted to farmers’ cooperatives or associations and not to individual farmers, and premiums are usually invested in projects that benefit the entire community, such as infrastructure projects like building schools, clinics, and roads, as well as environmental projects.

Kerchanshe evaluates the economic, social, and environmental aspects of coffee production to ensure that sources of coffee are sustainably grown. Kerchanshe collaborated with Scientific Certification Systems to create sustainable high quality, economic accountability, social responsibility certifications that guarantee safe, fair, and humane working conditions and environmental stewardship, which means that farmers manage waste, protect water quality, conserve water and energy, preserve biodiversity, and reduce agrochemical use.

To attain this objective the Kerchanshe team have organized the coffee producers (farmers) under different processing site and certified their farms by RA/UTZ, ORGANIC, FAIR TRADE, and C.A.F.E PRACTICES.