The coffee expo was held at Dedan KImathi University (Kamukunji grounds) in Nyeri county and was sponsored by Fair-trade Africa. It all went down on the 23rd and 24th of November 2017.
Among the various stake holders in the coffee sector present was the Alliance of Women in Coffee (AWIC), who had a stand where they were showcasing their work . Their stand had a range of items on display like several blends of coffee, AWIC branded T-shirts , AWIC branded Shirts and sisal bags which could not have come at a better time since the ban of plastic bags recently.
At the stand also on display was Phymix organic fertilizer, a product of Phytomedia international Ltd. Certainly in farming and in this regard coffee farming, the less chemicals used, the better the quality of the coffee beans. That is why AWIC Kenya leadership partnered with Phytomedia International to provide access to organic farm inputs to women and farmers in coffee in general so as to facilitate improved coffee quality and quantity.
I was among those of us who were at the stand and very many people who visited the stand were interested in knowing who these women in coffee are. Most if not all the men who visited the stand were curious to know WHY is it women and not men?!
The answer is quite simple:
Alliance of women in Coffee is the Kenyan chapter of International Women In Coffee Alliance with its membership open to all coffee farmers in the 34 coffee growing counties and all the women in Kenya along the coffee value chain, with an objective of advocating for women participation along the coffee value chain in Kenya.
As for the question ‘why women and not men?’, It is general knowledge that from time immemorial in matters land ownership in Kenya Land has been majorly owned by men. Bearing that in mind, in coffee farming, even though women do majority of the farm work, most of the coffee is owned by men thus making the men the key controllers and majority stake holders in the coffee sector hence the need to empower women to be more active in the sector so as to catch up with their male counterparts. I believe it is in that spirit to bridge the gender gap in the coffee sector with the women being the marginalized group that AWIC was formed.
Back to the expo, many women coffee farmers visited the AWIC stand and I had the opportunity to speak to some of them on their journey in coffee farming.
Jane Wamaitha, Donata Njoki, Grace Muthoni and Lucy Watetu Kairu of Iriani co-operative society in Mathira constituency, Nyeri county who are also members of AWIC told me they have benefitted tremendously through learning and interacting with other women coffee farmers and other stake holders in the coffee value chain since joining AWIC. Getting access to the organic fertilizer had also been a major boost to their crop.
On enquiring about how many kilograms she had the previous year, one of them Lucy, told me that she had no idea since previously her role in coffee production had always been doing the farm work, harvesting and delivering the produce to the factory for processing. From there her husband took charge of enquiring on the number of kilograms delivered at the factory and ultimately cashing in the proceeds of the crop. Luckily for her after joining AWIC the husband was kind enough to donate fifty trees to her ,out of which she will be having her first ‘taste of harvest’ next year. She beamed happily as she told me that part of the story!
Personally I got a chance to interact with several stake holders at the event and learned a lot. For instance this farmer who for many years has been producing over ten thousand kilograms annually and prior to the event he did not know that he was capable of processing his coffee individually after acquiring the license for that…
I also got to have an opportunity of getting a better understanding of espresso and cappuccino terms from friends at a nearby stand. If not that someone called me before I could capture the whole espresso-cappuccino nits and bits, by now I would be giving you my professional point of view but it is alright! I am still hanging on there…Probably I will write more about it when I get the hard facts but basically what I gathered in ‘bare minimum terms’ is:
Espresso-More water ,less milk with a single espresso being when the coffee is from one outlet of the espresso machine and lighter in coffee concentration while a double being when the coffee is from the machine through two outlets and with a higher coffee concentration.
Cappuccino-less water more milk and you can make decorations on top using the milk froth.
I also happened to spot a friend doing a test on one of the farm tractors which I so bad wanted to try since the devil in me was testing me so much I go try it out but considering that the last time my hands were on a moving machine is quite long ago, I managed to pull a ‘get behind me satan’ and opted to watch as she charged on the machine…
Well, that’s a wrap from me. Get yourself a double espresso if not a cappuccino and while at it keep peace and love one another. So long ~ below pictures from the expo.