Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Livelihood of our coffee producers

 When i meet people and out of 'nosiness' they ask whom am i,  or the 'usual' how i ended up in Germany, my simple answer is that i am a farmer's daughter. When i mention farming, coffee is not the first crop that comes to many people's minds but well...for the 1017 farmers of Ndurutu Wet mill and their families, that is their livelihood; not to mention the 25 Million small-scale farmers who grow 80% of the world's coffee. Growing and harvesting coffee involves labour-intensive manual work , and before our famous Kaki Kahawa became ' your cup of coffee' it had been planted, weeded, picked, processed ,bagged and transported by a farmer...that is their livelihod.That is the story in your coffee cup.

Ndurutu coffee farmer

This is our first Blog this year. Well i had been in Kenya for the last two and a half months, not only to enjoy the sun but to coordinate the harvest for the season 2014/ 2015.

Helping with the harvest with Kira & Jan of Loppokaffeeexpress
Control check ;) if the coffee is upto our quality requirements
cleaning the cherries at the Ndurutu wet mill

Having spent the last two months with our producers, i got to taste some of the most amazing coffees for this season. I spent days with our producers and explained to them how their coffee travelled all the way from their farms, to end up in shops in Germany.

With a group of our Vocal farmers whom we train on sustainable coffee farming

We discussed how we could try and mitigate some of the risks in coffee production by focusing in producing high quality speciality beans which would later on attract  a premium of around 40% over ordinary beans and at the same time addressing the needs of these amazing people in a far away village who produce our coffee.
Having grown up there i understand the complex socio-political-economic reasons why life is so difficult for these small-holder coffee farmers and we discussed at length the collaborative efforts between them and KEDOVO e.V to enhance their economic viability and social rural development. 
We revisited the pressing issue of keeping the children in school. I am aware of the struggle to complete education for many of the children of our coffee producers, and hence our vow to support with the education requirements. In Nov we supported Ndurutu Primary school with 20 new desks. This would not have been possible if not for Nicole and Heinz and all the other Roasters in Germany who buy coffee from us. Asanteni.

front row; the old desks, back row; the new desks supported by Sandorkai Handel Papenhagen
We brought in new books for the library that we are setting up. Currently the school rely on borrowing books from neighbouring schools. We believe that relief aid in any form is short term and hardly alleviates poverty. Kedovo uses holistic approach that dwells on full development of the children of our coffee producers, not approaches that will merely sustain them through poverty. Is Education not the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world? as quoted by the late Nelson Mandela?
By having access to education, these children will develop self confidence and social/ economical skills. When i was growing up, my father made us believe that education was the only means we could use to overcome our situation. Me and my siblings laboured over the kerosen lamp ( there was no rural electrification back then) day and night, scouring dozens of borrowed books...Today i still believe that when a child is given the chance to have education, their path in life has been paved....the world is open, they can live their dreams....they have the chance to visit Disney World :D

Class 8 pupils Ndurutu Primary school
Some of the books we will use to set up the library- supported by Sandtorkai Handel Papenhagen

It was fulfilling to finally see that all our hard work is not in vain. The farmers have taken heed of the fact that sharing of knowledge between old and new is vital, and it is greatly appreciated by all concerned, to the fact that they arrange meetings between themselves  to discuss new experiences and methods to enhance their crops interms of improving quality and yield.
Our work with these great partners aims to increase value through the supply chain by providing training and infrastructure at origin to deliver the highest-quality coffee to buyers in Europe at sustainable prices.
Through our Field School trainings, we offer capacity building of the coffee producers through an interactive and dynamic model that promotes teamwork, with the vocal farmers replicating the knowledge as 'trainers of others'. This is their livelihood.

Explaining to our farmers how their coffee travelled from Nyeri to end up in shops in Germany
 The trainings dwell on quality control, increased yield, organic farming, integrated management of pests and diseases; pruning and shade management; and Marketing of the produce. A great tasting coffee is the result of a partnership and relationships of the producer and the roaster...we make it happen.That is our livelihood.
That is their story.
We build partnerships , relationships and trust with our coffee producers and in turn, they cultivate the best coffee in the world for us and inturn they get good prices for the produce.

at the liquoring lab in Sagana

Through our holistic approach with our producers we focus on the full development of the community not merely sustaining them through the project period.
With this in mind we look into ways and support abilities to diversify the income of our producers so they can become self reliant...

Mrs Mwangi arriving from drawing water from the river
Mathenge one of our coffee producers arriving from the river

 In progress is the Installation of rain water harvesting tanks for 20 families and 1 Primary school, supported by Sandtorkai Handel Papenhagen, Chania Coffee and co-funded by BINGO Projektförderung Schleswig Holstein.
The objective of the Project is to mobilise the resources available and provide a long lasting sustainable and clean source of water in the might wonder why tanks? why water? well , clean water means health, income and education...clean water changes communities.This way we are all playing an active role in their livelihoods towards the formation of true partnerships.

installing one of the tanks with the Kedovo gang

 Handing over part of the new water tanks to the community- project supported by Sandtorkai Handel & Bingo

To continue supporting these communities we are currently offering Green coffee (Rohkaffee) from Ndurutu Wet Mill late crop 2013-2014 F.O.T Bremen, transport within Germany & the EU arrangable at a cost. Please contact Soni Schneidewind or Nicole Boedgter for information on samples, prices and contract.

For clients interested in Kenyan Single origin roasted coffees kindly purchase from our Online Shop, visit the shop 'Ein Welt Laden' located at the VHS in Kaltenkirchen , am Kretemoor 40, or visit us at the Kaltenkirchener Wochenmark every Saturday from 07:00 hrs to 12 noon.

Ndurutu coffee farmer

Many thanks to all of you who have believed in us, just to mention a few; Jonas, Kira, Daniel,Pingo, Thimo,Cornie, Eva,etc. Without you all this would not have been possible.
The work is not yet done, lets continue changing the dark story of poverty in your coffee cup.



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