Since it is hard to get perfect,a near perfect coffee world ought to have ;
Diversity, inclusivity ,equality and GOOD PAY.
Diversity meaning black,white coloured,poor, rich ,educated, uneducated,from whatever region,physically fit or challenged and whatever else you can think of and deem it ‘diverse’ ,all should feel at home when and where coffee is mentioned.
Inclusion-You see all those people mentioned above in diversity? its very simple as including them in all areas along the value chain and most importantly decision making. Down at the value chain there is the coffee farmer. I stress a poor coffee farmer since a spade ought to be called so and having been there at that farmer’s level for quite a while that part creates a puzzle in the coffee world, It amazes me how more often than not, the farmer more so the one over there down at the grass root,He/She never understands what goes on in this coffee world.All he gets is to be told produce ‘this and this type of coffee’ -more so in terms of quality ,that has the buyers needs catered. Good quality coffee he/she produces, but seldom do the prices ever favour him/her.After that the phrase turns to quantity, ‘a buyer wants a huge volume say a container or more!’ and that is definitely the killer phrase and if there is anything like cartels in coffee, I bet that phrase above is their ace!They pull it out and it is game over for a poor farmer. I simply wonder when the farmers needs will ever be addressed by action,there might have been an effort but if the effort was good enough this would not be a matter arising every now and then…food for thought I guess…and if they are being addressed, should we wait for a century now?!
In my accounting class there is something we learnt called ‘traceability’, Using it in my coffee language would mean a buyer tracing back the origin of a coffee that He/She purchases just to make sure that the poor farmer gets what is worth of him/her,of course not by law but purely by moral obligation,if anything against many odds he/she ensures you get good quality coffee for your ‘merchandise’
Equality-where do I start on this one.Well, in an African setup ‘ it is not all that rosy’ a topic ,for instance, as late as last week our women in parliament had to attend a parliament sitting with their heads wrapped with head wrappers to push the implementation of the two third gender rule of which their male counter parts merely scoffed them off. I wonder what Rwanda had to do to make sure that they vote in majority of women in their parliament,perhaps there is a leaf to be borrowed over there… The parliament was meant to give you the picture ,forget it for a minute and drift back to the coffee sector, need I say that its even worse? Once upon a time at Mama mboi’s coffee co-operative,quite recently rather, they had for the first time implemented the 1/3 gender rule, then politics happened and that is a whole different story altogether,-coffee and politics-. Politics can destroy good things you know!!!especially in Kenya where everything has to be politicised including a simple family christmas gathering!
Of GOOD PAY, at the top of the value chain its top dollar,while at the bottom (farmers level), selesele(coinscoins) is the name of the game! let the farmer get a good pay for his good quality coffee and if at all a farmer got a good pay I believe my mama Mboi would be a totally different character,perhaps riding in her range rover sport (too overrated?,okay just a pick up will do ) to the factory to drop off her cherry,attend womens’ table banking meeting or better yet drop off Mboi to and from school. That is a way far fetched dream for many small scale farmers who are the majority in the coffee sector and really, considering that coffee is one of our top dollar earning crops,It shouldn’t be so ,the money instead of trickling down to the farmer just vanishes into thin air somewhere in between and the excuses of it not trickling down are either one or the other-never ending,and just like that one mama Mboi and her mates find themselves here
Not a good thing I say.