Getting a fair price for Kenya's small coffee farmers

Saturday February 17 2018

The type of coffee you drink could improve the livelihoods of thousands of small coffee farmers. PHOTO | FILE

The type of coffee you drink could improve the livelihoods of thousands of small coffee farmers. PHOTO | FILE 

KARI MUTU
By KARI MUTU
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The type of coffee you drink could improve the livelihoods of thousands of small coffee farmers.

Artcaffe Restaurant, in collaboration with Fairtrade Africa, has become the first coffee house in Kenya to serve coffee guaranteed to empower Kenyan coffee growers.

Coffee is primarily produced by small-scale farmers who lack the ability to negotiate for better trading and working conditions.

Fairtrade Africa works to ensure transparency and accountability from production to the final consumer. They certify best practices at all stages including the quality of coffee beans, the coffee mills, rights of workers, protection of children and environmental preservation.

The Artcaffe Fairtrade coffee originates from a co-operative of farms in the Kabare region of central Kenya. It has a medium body, mild acidity with citrus notes of lime, and no bitterness.

“Every Kenyan coffee farmer deserves to get a fair price and be treated with respect for their beans,” says Alfonce Nzyuko, regional manager of Artcaffe Restaurants.

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Fairtrade Africa has partnerships across Africa. Their farmers are guaranteed a minimum price regardless of market fluctuations. Currently 171,650 Kenyan farmers in 21 small producer organisations are growing Fairtrade coffee.

Farmer groups are also paid an additional amount under the Fairtrade Premium. These funds are channelled directly into communal needs such as schools, health facilities and building infrastructure.

Traditionally, commodities such as coffee, cocoa, fruits, flowers and handicrafts are produced in developing countries for consumption in the developed world.

Fairtrade Africa used to focus on the global export market where the concept of fair trade is widely understood. Wangeci Gitata, Fairtrade’s resource, mobilisation and partnerships manager, says they aim to bring the same level of awareness to consumers in coffee-producing countries.

Kenya has a strong tea-drinking culture, but in 2017 coffee consumption rose by 19 per cent driven by the middle class.

Artcaffe plans to introduce a second Fairtrade option made from beans grown in central and eastern Kenya.