The owner of the mill, Asefa Dukamo, was introduced to coffee at a young age as his parents were cultivating coffee and other garden crops. In his teens, he began to supply neighbouring coffee washing stations with cherries bought from nearby relatives and villagers in addition to his own family’s farm. He realised that there were not many washing stations nearby, and he had to travel great distances to deliver his coffee. Thus began the idea to construct his own washing station to reduce the travel time for coffee producers in his region.
In 1997, he built a washing station in the Girja village, less than one mile from his parents’ house. The following year, another washing station was constructed in Eltama, 30km from Girja.
Dukamo then moved to Daye town in the Bensa district, setting up the mother washing station of Keramo (where the other Ethiopian coffee I have on offer comes from) called Qonqana. Eventually, a dry mill was added to provide facilities for naturally processed coffees. Asefa’s younger brother, Mulugeta Dukamo, is the co-founder of Daye Bensa Coffee exporters, and played a key role in the expansion of the washing stations. Today, Daye Bensa operates in six woredas: Bensa, Bura, Chabe, Hoko (Girja), Aroressa and Chire with 20 washing stations, five mills and three coffee farms.
As well as coffee, producers in the region will plant other crops such as sugarcane, a variety of fruits and “Inset”; a common indigenous plant that can be prepared as food in different forms. Income from coffee is important for these small scale farmers. Inputs are minimal – most coffee grown in the region is 100% organic, though not certified due to high certification costs. Farmers simply do not have the money to apply chemical fertilisers, pesticides, or herbicides.