Monday, December 31, 2018

Diary of the #kahawakids

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The plants that put food on our table

Once upon a time, coffee was a major export earner in my country, then it was overtaken by other sectors and is now ranked 4th after horticulture, tea, and tourism. The industry now contributes about 3.2% of Kenya’s foreign exchange earnings, a drop from the 40% contribution in the good years gone by. ..sigh

Every morning millions of people get up to a fresh brewed cup of coffee which at times they take for granted –coffee before work, on road trip pit stops, cups brewed out of boredom, coffee dates- each of those cups necessary, effortlessly and immediately accessible.

Those cups are products of hours of work, years of patience, decades of struggle for coffee producers and their families.

The KEDOVO Coffee Project set out to improve the lives of coffee farming communities in Nyeri , Kenya by connecting the coffee in your cups to these farmers. Farmers like my father, and his father, farmers who grow coffee because it is a way of living, surviving and because it is what their ancestors have left them. Farmers like Kedovo farmer Wilson Mwangi, who struggle to send their children to school in the city and hope they come back with some knowledge to help them survive in the unpredictable future in coffee farming mountains of the Aberdares.

Coffee in my country is threatened by drought and climatic change. The coffee Leaf Rust took over most of the farms in the crop year 2016/ 2017. Production dropped to 50%. Most farmers were helpless and felt there would be no solution. My father was no exception and he lost most of his harvest. He had to remove the affected coffee plants appx 300 trees. Growing up these coffee plants put food on our table, by removing them a part of us went away with them…most of the farmers feel the same, a piece of us is gone, because after all, this is their livelihood. This is the way they eat. This is the way they send their kids to school.

Almost a year later most of his trees have sprouted, a dark cloud hangs still in his eyes, hes still worried if the Leaf rust will strike again. Kedovo Coffee Project continues to train the farmers especially on comprehensive soil management techniques. Soil fertility is one of the main focuses and the farmers are taught how to protect the soil through shade and how to effectively use “cover crops.”

Over the last years, the rain pattern has completely changed. Rain comes at a time when you don’t expect it. Sunshine at time when you should be having rain. We are a worried lot…For the coffee addicts in my adopted country the impact of what is going on in my village will translate to slightly higher bill for a slightly worse cup of coffee. But for my people the consequences will be much more dire…
Most of the young people in my village gave up the ''proffession'' of coffee farming to look for work in the bigger cities, experts say the coffee industry is struggling because of this.
I sit in my office on a cold winter, all grey outside ...and worry about my people. The plants that put food on our table. This is the pride of my people, their community cannot be replaced.
The Kedovo Project on Sustainable Education continues to support the education requirement of the children of its coffee producers. Many ask me, if you educate them, will they not leave the village? Will you not be faced with the same big problem of migration to cities? Our believe is that if these young people from my village had access to unlimited eduaction chances ,they would finish their degrees, come back to the coffee farms and put their newfound knowledge into practice. What if we in the coffee industry worked hand in hand with them so they can aspire to be producers, like my father and his father, but producers with better Agronomic practices, we trained them to be roasters, give them chances to be exporters and baristas...what if?
Can we all vision small coffee farms on the foothills of Mt Kenya, where you could find agronomists, chemists, Exporters ,social workers....the list is long. Would we not rewrite the economics of coffee? By providing better future for these children we will be providong a future for the coffee industry.
We finally finished the Adminstration Block of Ndurutu Primary school.This school is 300 Metres from the Ndurutu Wet Mill which is one of the mills under Kedovo Coffee Project. The Adminstration Block was handed over to the community and will also be used as a meeting point for the Board of the Parents Teachers Association who now continues to do monitoring on the school with KEDOVO-Kenya offering advisory services.
Ndurutu Primary has currently 160 School kids from Pre-Unit to Class 8.
The purpose of the KEDOVO Social Development Projects in the coffee farming communities in Nyeri, is to promote economic development, direct trade and improve the livelihoods of these small-scale coffee farmers, their families and communities.We have long-lasting and trusting relationships with these communities, and our social development support is based on individual community needs.
It has been a wild incredibly busy 2017 for the Kedovo Coffee Project.  51 tonnes of green coffee, shipped to Germany. You all are amazing…and thus have helped the  KEDOVO Coffee Project to  bring together these farmers to work towards a common economic goal.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Shared Dream...

February is a month where the coffee season in Ndurutu is completely changed.
We no longer have the hustle and bustle of the farmers coming up the ranges with buckets full of coffee. It’s a month of main prunning, hand weeding and foliar feeds application. 

A month where my father spends the whole day tendering to his beloved  coffee trees. It is also a month of anticipated hope as the trucks snake their way to the city, delivering the green coffee ready for Export to faraway lands…Its also a month where the Kedovo coffee soldiers are busy cupping various coffees in readiness for contracting.

Kedovo coffee soldiers
Our coffee story begins in 2013 amongst the villages of Kiganjo, Central  Kenya just after the main season had ended and the farmers yet again had been at the mercy of the middlemen. We set out to start rebuilding our lives, and the Kedovo coffee project was founded on a shared dream. A dream where coffee farmers in Nyeri, central Kenya would grow their coffee alongside their food crops to provide the much needed cash where they would eat regular meals, send their children to school, build new and safer homes ,develop the social amenities in the village and even set up businesses.  
Discussions with Farmers from Ndurutu on future of the project

Coffee leaving the dusty village

we have come a long way, but i do still worry for my people
The shared dream was to use coffee as a tool of transformation. These were people who were tired of emergency relief and subsisting on the generosity of others but they knew they could not succeed alone, and we had to build relationships. Relationships with coffee roasters, coffee drinkers and in turn build a market for our coffee.......
Building relationships with Roasters from Germany

Growing up in the village together with the Kedovo gang, we always felt the need to ''escape'' , but how can we escape from ourselves? I spent the last 67 days in the village, unlocking memories long forgotten, working with the farmers, learning from each other and finding solutions to the obstacles we face in our shared dream...

Our profit from selling the coffee has been going back to Kiganjo ,Nyeri in Kenya, to  the farmers and their families to improve the quality of their lives through projects with schools and communities. In Jan 2016 we started the Kedovo School Renovation Project -Ndurutu Primary school. At that time we was a worried lot. The school has ca.170 kids with ages of 3-15 years. The Infrastructure was pathetic, we had dilapilated roofs, classrooms without doors or windows ...the list is long.  
The power of humanity prevailed, and you ALL without even knowing us, believed in us, and molded us into the Organisation that we have become. YOU believed in us and shared with us the meaning of community, and we inturn -not knowing that we were looking- we found ourselves. YOU have all been AWESOME....and The Ndurutu Primary School is fully renovated and handed over to the community .We did this with dancing and praises on 20th Jan 2017. The shared dream....

we had to begin our day making 400 pcs of Kenyan Chapati phew!!

community in attendance

Its done....

The Shared Dream....

Assistant County Commisioner adressing the community

The gang ;)

Our Mugithi Dance cant miss on such an occassion

Part of the school

Handing over to the school Adminstration and Local Authorities

Its done...

The shared dream....
Without YOU buying our coffees, this would have been so much harder, and for this on behalf of my people our sincere gratitude.
We all have dreams….coffee farmers have dreams of realizing the fruits of their labour.
In Sept we partnered with Green Planet for the supply of Solar power to several families within Kiganjo Location. We continued with the installations and in Jan & Feb we installed 14 more systems. Special thanks to Katrin of KEDOVO Volunteers for her commitment in supporting this project.

Solar power is something we all take for granted especially in the developed world, - hej if a room is too dark we flip a switch, if our cellphone battery dies we plug it many of us eat cold food? hell no! we toss it into the microwave.

Farmers like Mama Carol below , live without electricity...
Davie showing Katrin how a paraffin ''lamp'' operates
These solar systems will not only provide safe clean energy but contribute Economically in the sense that some of the families can start small businesses from profits derived through "charging phones" for others at a fee, use this money to buy groceries or as a booster to other income generating activities.  

Katrin deliberating how to do the wiring ;)

Beneficiary...full with joy

long term partnerships...

The human impact of these systems is incredible! Access to electricity can make life in rural villages much more comfortable minimizing the families the adverse effects of smoke from burning kerosene indoors, and it becomes easier to perform household chores (for women in particular), and for children to do their homework.....The Shared Dream.

It is difficult to put word into gratitude for this immense support. We still have more families to support and this we can only realize with the purchase of our coffees.

another happy beneficiary

Towards our work in ensuring that we supply YOU with high quality coffee from the Kedovo Coffee Project, one of the crucial step along the way is the drying of the coffee, which happens between harvest and export. Ndurutu Wet Mill where most of our project is centred has a lot of old and broken drying beds. Thanks to LOPPOKAFFEEEXPRESS and Lukas der Leipziger Baker for their support and the partnership over the years, we were able to support the mill with 2 new metal/steel drying beds that are more durable compared to the timber ones.

most of the drying beds are more than 20 years old and in dire need of repair / new ones

old, broken timber beds

welding of the new drying beds

''transporting the steel bed from welding area

Githinji the Mason making sure nothing is left to chance

Handing over the drying beds to Joseph the Mills Manager

To my community coffee is life... and its what we know how to do. Most of the coffee from last season was affected as mentioned earlier by leaf rust and the coffee berry disease, and most farmers lost the harvest...but we continue growing coffee.
My father lost a lot of his cherished trees...but he soldiers on, and together with other farmers they have started re-planting new coffee bushes as well. The waiting begins; Another 4 years of renewed hope...

my father cutting off the affected branches

The kedovo soldiers hunting for new coffee seedlings

Renewed hope...

Rainfall between the month of November to January was very poor for the crop as well, and due to these factors we have a shortage in the harvest.
The Agronomy and technical trainings continues and we focus not only on the improvement of quality for our coffees but as well as the quality of life for the farmers that work tirelessly to produce these amazing coffee.
training farmers on what roasters look for in a coffee

To continue supporting these communities we have on offer Green coffee (Rohkaffee) from Ndurutu Wet Mill & Thageini Wet Mill Season 2016/2017 F.O.T Bremen or Hamburg, transport within Germany & the EU arrangable at a cost. Kindly contact Soni or Nicole for information on samples, prices and contract. Lets rewrite the economics of coffee together...


For roasted Chania coffee kindly purchase from our OnlineShop or visit our offices in Kaltenkirchen. Visit the shop & Cafe 'Ein Welt Laden' located at the VHS in Kaltenkirchen , am Kretemoor 40, or pass by at our stand at the Kaltenkirchener Wochenmark every Saturday from 07:00 hrs to 12 noon.

Be part of our story....