“I no longer use firewood I use gas. In fact, my eyes have been affected by the smoke from firewood, which I have been using for many years. I am now dependent on spectacles whenever I am reading, but what makes me happy, is the fact that I can afford this pair of glasses and I can fend for my children comfortably.
This was not the case a few years ago. Nonetheless, coffee farming I must say has been everything to me. My parents afforded to give me an education through proceeds from the crop amid struggles. My interest in coffee spurred when I was a young girl and I got to inherit three acres from my parents.
As a coffee farmer, since I joined Ndumberi Coffee Society, my income streams started soaring. The price was good. As farmers, we received numerous training sessions on good agricultural practices from Fairtrade, an advantage which my parents did not have.
As a result, my coffee grades transformed from PB to AA and AB season after another.
Fairtrade certification I must say is the best thing that happened to us. I have learnt how to diversify my income sources. In my three acres of land, in addition to coffee, I do horticulture and dairy farming. I have seven cows and I milking from four.
I used to cook with firewood, now I can afford gas. Looking for firewood especially during the rainy season was an uphill task. The wet pieces of wood that we collected during such times, we would first have to dry them before usage, which would make my children take their dinner very late. That is now a thing of the past in my home. I am excited that very soon SNV and CMS (Coffee Management Services) will be installing biogas plants for us.
I connected electricity in my house as soon as I completed constructing my dream home, five years ago. I used to have a house made of wood and iron sheets and rainy days were our worst since water would percolate through. Now, we not only enjoy security, but we are saved from recurrent diseases that would attack my children with every weather change.
Coffee farming is my passion. It breaks my heart to see the rate at which the bushes are being uprooted and are giving way to concrete to satiate the real estate boom.”
You are the only female Board member in Ndumberi Society…
“As women, we always shy off from leadership. I did too. I had been a leader in the Women’s Guild of my church, but I have never fathomed taking leadership in a Cooperative Society. Some members of the Cooperative visited me and requested whether I can be a leader seeing that I lead by example in terms of the best coffee quality in the cooperative.
Out of a Board of seven members, I am the only woman. The leadership in church honed my skills and prepared me for this.
My vision is that women should come out and be elected. If we have more women, definitely, there will be a change. If you educate a woman, you educate the whole community. We are now urging men to give women coffee trees.”
I start packing ready to leave and she stops me…
“I must thank Fairtrade once again! Do you know Fairtrade made me see the doors of an aeroplane? My first visit was to Sweden to participate in a coffee event and I came back and shared lessons with our members. WOW, it was great!”
Joyce Mwihaki is a member of Ndumberi coffee society located in Kiambu, Kenya. The cooperative sells 50% of their produce as Fairtrade.
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