Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Coffee Farmer....

The Fall is here, temperatures have dropped drastically.The streets are devoid of life, the leaves changing colour and falling off, the nights extremely cooler ...its a time to bring in the harvest.
view of my street with most of the leaves falling

Far away in the village of my birth, it is the main season for coffee. Only it has not rained in weeks, the harvest is not good and my people are a worried lot...

a section of my father's coffee farm suffering from the Nov heat
My father  turned 66 years old in Sept. His family has been coffee growers all their life. He wakes up at 6 in the morning and heads to tend his beloved coffee trees whether in rain or sunshine. My mother will then take him breakfast around 8:am, breakfast which is mainly a cup of fermented porridge or some thin tea, which he will gulp while standing with a faraway look towards the mountain….My father planted his own coffee trees 35 years ago, my mother says that is the day he ‘’fell in love’’.
My father at the Coffee Tree Nursery checking out new coffee variety seedlings
My Paternal grandmother left the village when my father was only 16 years old. She left, in the search of work in the cities ; far away from the coffee growing villages of the Aberdares. She never returned….She died alone, away from her family. They buried her in a remote village on the banks of the Narosura.These are stories told by my father as we grew up, stories told in the evening by the cooking fire as we waited for my mother to cook the staple food of maize and beans.  My grandmother  left because of all the frustrations and hardship associated with coffee production.49 years later, not much have changed…my community still faces the same hardships.

delivering of parchment

Milling of coffee at Thageini wet mill

Thageini women coffee farmers #kedovocoffeeproject
My family is no different from the rest of the coffee producers , their days are days filled with uncertainty, and at times with hope of a better tomorrow.
Mom picking coffee at home
The #kedovocoffeeproject  tries  to pull back the curtain on the everyday lives of these amazing coffee farmers so that everyone concerned about the future of specialty coffee  better understands the complex realities of life in these coffee farming villages , where we live and work every day, where our hope is that coffee can become a better tool of development.
one of our farmers processing coffee .#kedovocoffeeproject
Coffee is a product of a long gruelling agricultural process. Years of dedication and hardwork..our work focuses extensively on the economic and social development of the people who dedicate their lives to provide us with our morning cups of coffee.
Its in this line that we have continued to support the Social Development of the communities of Kiganjo. Last month the KEDOVO gang kick started our new project on Solar Energy. We partnered with Green Light Planet Kenya Ltd to support farmers from Ndurutu Wet Mill with Solar power as an alternative source of Energy. The project will benefit 20 Farmers in the first Phase. This would not have been possible without the immense support from Heinz and Nicole of Sandtorkai Handel Papenhagen who believed us from the beginning that coffee can change lives. This would not have been possible without you all who purchase our coffees whether Green Beans or Roasted in Germany, Austria & Norway and on behalf of my people our sincere gratitude.

Technical Training of KEDOVO team & Vocal farmers by Green Light Planet

Many coffee farmers fail to earn a reliable living from coffee production. Can we level the playing field for coffee growers? We can do this by forging simplified supply chains, by forming genuine relationships with these amazing people, by giving them chances to participate in the trading of their coffee, by making sure we support the social development of these communities. My country has over 6 million people who depend on coffee production Mrs Chau on the photo below is one of them. She walks 3 kilometers to buy paraffin to use for lighting. Sometimes she does not have the 50 shillings (0.50€) to buy the paraffin and will have to improvise by lighting her house with the glow of the cooking fire .The Kedovo gang installed a system in her house...#coffeechanginglives


Solar power can provide a simple evening lighting that most of us often take for granted in cities. It can bring a huge change in the life of the growing rural generation. Our work is to facilitate channels of education for our coffee producers and their families. Solar power can bring to them the same learning tools that most urban population has. Solar energy will play a pivotal role in bringing a turnaround on Rural Exodus.
More happy families....

Growing up in a coffee growing community in Kenya my life was difficult..Coffee was and is still my Family's source of income. I walked kilometers to school barefoot and in worn shoes, sometimes on an empty stomach. At night we studied under our old kerosene lamp that my mother received as a gift on her wedding day from her family. Sometimes we didn't have 5 shillings to buy the kerosene and we owed the village shop.. We did our homework using the dying frames of the kitchen fire.Three and half decades later, many of the children of my community undergo through the same struggles. Our new project on Solar Energy brings hope and freedom to study, freedom and chances for those children to change their lives! Be part of our journey towards the economic and Social sustainability development of the communities who produce our coffee.

Zackie of Kedovo & Joseph the Mills Manager in Ndurutu showing one of the farmers how to charge her phone using Solar power

the kids from the above beneficiary learning in the evening by use of a kerosene lamp

learning using solar power as a means of energy #coffeechanginglives
Nyeri  where our #kedovocoffeeproject is located is home to extensive networks of small-scale coffee producers.  The fertile lands produce a broad range of tropical and temperate crops, and the 90% or more of the population in this rural area combine household food production with coffee acting as the cash crop. Cash is needed to pay school fees for kids, buy school requirements (books, uniforms etc), pay for transport to health centres, and then meet doctor and medicine charges. Cash also has become critical for many non-market exchanges and other social obligations.

The economic realities of these small scale farmers dictates the levels of investment, whether back to the farms itself or social development. A strong coffee sector stimulates economic and social development. Our hope is that by shedding enough light on the issues that play themselves out here every day in coffee-growing communities, we will contribute in the continued movement of the coffee industry toward more sustainable sourcing practises, at the same time supporting the social and economic development and enrich the lives of the farmers who grow our coffee..

coffee patchment drying at the Ndurutu Wet mill
We believe that the future of coffee belongs to the organized, and organized farmers are the engine to growth and sustainability in the coffee sector.
We have mainly focused on Education as a means of sustainable development, where we know that though its better than in the past, we still have a long way to go. Farming itself is a business and its important that we equip the children of the coffee producers with better chances in education and in turn they are abreast with challenges and opportunities in the coffee industry.
On Sept 30th , the Kedovo gang in Kenya finalized the first phase of the Renovation of Ndurutu Primary School in Kiganjo and handed it officially to the community.

Davie of Kedovo trying to remember his handing over speech ;)

Renovated hall which serves as a dining area for the school children

singing & dancing ;)

Kedovo team handing over first phase of the school to the community

Renovated phase: 5 classes and a Hall

Lunch time, newly built kitchen
We still though have a lot of work ahead of us where we still have 6 classes remaining to renovate and modernize, we discussed with the community and plan to build an Administration block which will house the Staffroom, Head and Deputy offices and a secure storage facility for the school books etc.
The current rooms used as offices will be modernized and equipped to be used as a Library and Computer lab respectively. By bringing in knowledge and resources to these communities, we support them to access information and communication technology which is becoming increasingly necessary to enhance equitable trade and survival.

Deputy head office- Ndurutu Primary school

head teacher office- Ndurutu Primary School

Teachers (Staffroom) Ndurutu Primary
Part of the remaining classes to be renovated
Coffee has no future without my people and other coffee producing communities all over the world, growing, picking and processing it. What will make the next generation of coffee producers decide to continue farming coffee? what will keep them in the farming villages and not migrate to cities? what will make these communities have sustainable livelihoods from coffee production? We cannot keep on throwing around the word 'Sustainability in coffee' if we cannot have solutions to those questions. We need to keep investing in sustainability of these communities both in social and economic development as well as in practises of the farmers whom we need to assure steady demand of their coffee at a fair price. Lets make these communities thrive...
The Early crop Season 2016 was really early, we managed to mill Ndurutu & Thageini coffee on time.
These great coffees arrived in Germany last week and we are amazed by the dedication of these two communities.
Arrival of our coffee container in Bremen last week

#kedovocoffeeproject crop 2016

At the warehouse...we are ready people!!

Thageini AA& Ndurutu AB Top #kedovocoffeeproject
 This time we have 3 qualities in Stock: Thageini AA Top, Ndurutu AB Top and Ndurutu PB
The #kedovocoffee is coffee that's grown in a manner that respects the environment and it's people. It's a coffee that offers economic and social sustainability to millions of families whose livelihoods depend on it. Be part of our Story....

To continue supporting these communities we have on offer Green coffee (Rohkaffee) from Ndurutu Wet Mill & Thageini Wet Mill F.O.T Bremen or Hamburg, transport within Germany & the EU arrangable at a cost. Please contact Soni Schneidewind or Nicole Boedtger for information on samples, prices and contract.

For roasted Chania coffee kindly purchase from our Online Shop 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.

and our work continues.....

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Untold Stories…

Three weeks ago the 2016/2017 coffee picking season began in my Country. It will be 7 months of intense labour.

Wilson , one of our dedicated farmers and his Family
During the coffee season, my grandmother, just like most of the other farmers in the village walks 2 kms from her home near the Sagana river, to deliver the coffee produce to the Ndurutu Wet mill for processing. Her mornings are mainly spent picking the red berries amidst unseeing eyes. Long ago i asked her how old she is and her reply was that she was married to my grandfather before he was shipped off to Burma to fight for the Queen. I guess she is in her middle 80's.

My grandmother carrying a basket of coffee at her back
My grandmother, like other small scale coffee producers in the world, are the people responsible for producing majority of the world‘s green beans. These are people who often struggle to adequately feed their families...these are communities that face mountains of challenges thus becoming very difficult for them to thrive and to produce best quality coffee. My Country is faced with an aging population of coffee producers and a youth generation totally uninterested in coffee production.The list of challenges that they face is limitless and actually changes with every season of coffee that comes…

Most of us in the coffee sector have done tremendous efforts to support these coffee farming communities, but the main challenge ahead of us, that we all are afraid maybe to talk about is that my aging farmers are retiring and the next generation of coffee producers is not interested. My grandmother needs 2 hours to walk the 2 kms to the mill, i cannot promise she will be able to do the same come the next season. I worry...the young people in my village do not view coffee farming as a dependable source of income.

Kedovo Coffee Farmer- Ndurutu Village
My life is filled with memories...memories of my childhood and the hardships that come from coffee production. Memories of stuggle,despair and hope of a better tomorrow. Memories of my mother trekking more than 10 kms in search of vegetables from neighbouring villages, vegetables that she would later on hawk at the village market to supplement our meagre earnings from coffee production. Like most of my peers from the farming villages we left the village not as a choice but as a necessity. Three decades later my village is still faced with the same challenges of the youth permanently leaving the farms and migrating to cities in search of better economic opportunities. The next generation of coffee farmers is not interested.
Me and you have the capacity to Change all this- can you imagine if we empowered These communities how many lives we would Impact? not forgetting the raise in Quality of a greater amount of coffee.

This is among the challenges faced by the Kedovo Coffee Project- and its our work to fully invest in the next generation of the coffee producers.

Discussing with our Partners in Jan on how best to include the youth in coffee production
Its the work of KEDOVO e.V to not only tell these stories but to support these communities to thrive under all economic, social and environmental conditions. Its our duty to make sure the young people of my village see a future in coffee farming. We cannot only advocate for quality in the cup if the quality of life of the coffee producers is not adressed- this is the only way i can assure you of a sustainable coffee.

Kedovo Coffee Project- Coffee ready for Export
The last months have been busy for us, MSC Luciana docked last month at the port of Hamburg. Onboard was a container load of green beans from our Kedovo Coffee Project. This time we imported coffee from the Thageini Wet Mill from Nyeri. We shipped both Kenya AA and Kenya AB Top.Thageini is a great coffee, a coffee with many untold stories..

Arrival of a Container load in May from Kedovo Coffee Project-Thageini Wet Mill
The sale of this coffee continue to Support not only the economic development of our coffee Producers but greatly supports KEDOVO e.V's Projects on Social development in the villages of Kiganjo , Nyeri- Kenia.
My coffee Story is the Journey of the village of my birth towards economic and social sustainability through coffee production, ist a Story of where the children of coffee Producers get Access to better Education chances in  their lives, a Story of a world where the coffee Producers got enhanced with Trade Information and trade channels, a Story where we could finally one day measure the degree of Stability. I dream of a world where  my community   benefited from the 2.25 Billion Cups of coffee consumed daily ...that is our coffee Story.The untold stories.

In April,together with our Partner Nicole of Sandtorkai Handel we presented the Kedovo Coffee Project- Sustainability in Practise at the Coffee Roasters Congress in Hamburg with over 170 attendees.

Nicole & Soni presenting the Kedovo Coffee Project- Photo Credit :Sinje Hasheider
My work at the coffee industry has been what my younger brother calls The Fates. You see when my father started our small coffee farm at the slopes of Mt. Kenya i was barely a year old. Its said that it was one of the hottest season in my country, and my mother struggled watering the young coffee trees everyday for almost a month. She carried me on her back and walked the 1.5 km to the Chania River, carrying a 20 litre jerrican of water up the hill as more than 10 times a day to save the young tender coffee trees from dying.Then came the Famine and most of those trees dried up. My father's heart is still heavy with pain of a loss...

These are stories from my childhood, stories told by my mother as we grew up. She told of stories of my father‘s determination and his love for coffee. My father always dreamed of owning a coffee farm-little did he know how it could completely change our lives. Little did he know of the experiences and friendships we would cultivate with the people that we have and will meet in our journey. I cant imagine how life would have been without his beloved coffee trees...i cant imagine how my life will be if i dont spend it helping those farmers obtain a sustainable market for their produce….thats my story.

Coffee is my world....Photo Credit: Sinje Hasheider
The KEDOVO gang in Kenya have been super busy. Their work is to strengthen the community and give them hope again, hope to continue growing world‘s best coffee. This is only possible by making coffee more economically compelling, by supporting the farmers in building greater economic and social opportunities. Our main focus in social development has been the overhaul of Ndurutu Primary School.The school infrastructure has detererioted and with this kind of learning atmosphere most of the children will perform poorly and well below students in municipal ( town) schools.

Last month the gang finished the construction of a modern Kitchen block. This would not have been possible without the great support from BingoProjektförderung Schleswig Holstein, Nicole & Heinz of Sandtorkai Handel Papenhagen and all our amazing coffee buyers.

One might wonder why a school kitchen? The untold stories.....

Old kitchen Ndurutu Primary School

cooking at the old kitchen
The Kenyan school system is that school time begins at 7:00 am and ends at 16:00 pm. In between you have a lunch break of 1 hour. During my school days we used to rush home for lunch so long as we were back to school within this one hour. Can you imagine running for 3 kms home, eating and coming back the 2 kms again within 1 hour? Now you have your answer why many of us Kenyans are marathon runners… ;) sigh All this changed and now the students are obligated to take with them packed lunch to school. Most coffee producers live from one day to the next. We do not have fridges and graneries stacked up with food. Most families eat up all what they cook in the evening and when tomorrow comes we find a solution tomorrow...the untold stories

And the construction began....

Zackie the Program Coordinator planning on the construytion of a modern School kitchen- Ndurutu Pri

ground preparations

delivery of construction materials: Stones, sand etc

and the gang got down to work..

Davie of Program Director KEDOVO-Kenya making sure no Stone is unturned ;)

great Progress

a view of the new and old kitchen
 And we continued........

Almost there!!!
Our model is designed from the ground thinking of communities being there for one another, designed to support the coffee producers through economic and social sustainability.
I am a daughter of a coffee Producer, i only know too well what their children go through in life, i know the endless worries we had growing up whether my father would afford our School fees or we would have to drop out of School like many from the village, worries of whether my mother would be able to sell enough vegetables to be able to put Food on our table.. the worries of whether there was gonna be a way out of the cycle of the unknown. My father and his Family have been coffee Producers for more than 50 years, ist our life. My Story is not different from the rest of the People from the village, we all depend on coffee production. I grew up and left but my community still depend upon coffee as their Primary source of income.
The greatest threat of social sustainability in these communities,results from the economic conditions faced by many. This has a direct Impact on Access to education, infrastructure, housing etc. The Kedovo Coffee Project gurantees economic and social sustainability of the community who produce our coffee. It has the values of Transparency, Traceability and Sustainability. Our direct contact with the People who produce our coffee is our strength and foundation to a sustainable approach...

Finally! the new School kitchen was ready

cooking at the new kitchen

Cooking Station- new kitchen

After the construction of the School kitchen, we started a Feeding Program on 4th May 2016. This would not have been possible without the support of Monika and Horst Schumacher Foundation. For this great cooperation we will always be grateful. The feeding Project currently supports 150 Pupils of Ndurutu Primary School. These are children of our coffee Producers from the villages of Ndurutu and parts of Kirichu. The area is served by the Ndurutu Wet Mill whose coffee is available in Germany for sale, both as green beans and Roasted coffee.

Davie with Class 8 pupils on the first day of the feeding program

making a misture of Kenya's staple Food of maize and beans
Zackie raiding the Kedovo farms for vegetables for the feeding program

Lunch time ;)

Thankyou our coffee Family ;)

We are ready!!

George the chairman of Ndurutu Primary and Davie delivering maize and veg

We have a lot of work ahead of us, we need to construct a Dining Hall for the School, renovate the remaining classes, construct a new Adminstartion block- the list is endless. We can make all this happen. All you have to do is purchase our coffee.....

To the Roasters in Germany and Austria,who continue supporting our work, on behalf of my community of coffee Producers, my sincere thankyou- without you all this would have been so much harder. All of you need to remember that- we all together have the capacity to build our own ship, it certainly is a Long process but it gives hope. It gives hope to communities miles away from gives hope for a better future. Our cooperation together will empower these communities and raise the Quality of a greater amount of coffee.

To continue supporting these communities we have on offer Green coffee (Rohkaffee) from Ndurutu and Thageini Wet Mills 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. Our current offering is for KENYA AB TOP- Kedovo Coffee Project.

For roasted Chania Coffee kindly purchase from our Online Shop 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.

and our work continues.....