Last week, we were asked to come speak at the official opening day of our Kenyan sister company’s (Kenyacof) new dry mill “Kahawa Bora”, which translates into English as “Excellent Coffee”. There were probably around 300 farmers in attendance. These were either representatives of cooperative societies or of small estates that have signed up as clients of Kahawa Bora. The other featured guests were the Director of the Agricultural and Foods Agency, the head of the coffee section within AFA, the Kenyan Coffee Research Foundation, and several others.
The speeches varied, depending on the speakers, but there were several key themes which all attendees mentioned:
1. Quality coffee is the key to better incomes
2. Prices paid need to reward farmers better
3. Better governance is needed in the Kenyan coffee sector
These 3 points are all addressed by Kenyacof’s way of working directly with producer groups or estates.
The mill is relatively small, but is perfectly sized for microlots/specialty coffee and small estate farmers. We think that Kenyacof has exactly the right approach in working with estates – the cooperative societies have had mixed success over the years in returning the correct share of FOB price paid back to farmers. In addition, at times the scale and structure of cooperative societies has sometimes detached farmers from becoming truly involved in forward progress.
We still love (and buy) cooperative coffees, but feel that giving farmers more choices is always a good thing. Allowing medium sized farmers to export their own coffees is something we stand behind completely. Our Slopes of 8 and Mwendia coffees are perfect examples of what is possible from a quality perspective when people all the way along the supply chain work together towards a common goal. We will keep on supporting this way of collaborating and hope to bring more coffees of this farmer-forward program to Antwerp!