Amanuel is one of our ‘4 A’s’ on this field trip: promising students helping us reach out to more and more smallholder farmers. Amanuel currently sits atop of his class at Jimma University and is on course to graduate with honours with in 2017.
Amanuel currently lives with his wife and child in Jimma, close to the university. Born and raised in Bonga, his primary language is Kaffigna, the local dialect used in the Kaffa region. Amongst his many talents is networking: he knows a lot of people in the Ethiopian coffee scene.
While just 30 years old, Amanual has years of experience training farmers on how to increase their crop yields and better process their coffee after harvesting. On our recent trip with him, Amanuel co-hosted a training session with some 30 farmers. Speaking Kaffigna, we couldn’t understand precisely what he was saying. But we do know the farmers were listening, and that’s the whole point.
Three years after introducing FairChain coffee to the world, we published our first annual ‘impact’ report. Provocatively titled Life is Unfair, the report doesn’t just recount our victories, but relishes our failures, too! “Had we been a little bit less idealistic and naïve about challenging the coffee industry’s unfair ways, there would be no FairChain coffee today,” founder Guido van Staveren candidly reports.
Unlike most annual reports, Moyee’s Life is Unfair combines financial facts and future roadmaps with very short stories, playful imagery and uncompromised self-reflection.
Want to get your hands on one? Read it online or order your PDF or hardcopy here.
“We have achieved a lot in a short amount of time, so much so that investors are lining up to help take FairChain global,” adds Van Staveren. “But quite honestly, we truly hoped FairChain would be more of a household word – and in more Dutch households – than we are today.”
While the report is full of battles with Ethiopian coffee policy, European trade blocks and local transparency, Life is Unfair is also a celebration of our major victories in 2015. Last year we officially opened what is arguably the highest tech roaster in Africa and became the first coffee company in Ethiopia to earn its ISO certification. In Amsterdam, we continue to make inroads in cafes and supermarkets. We even joined forces with e-transport company BubblePost for green urban coffee delivery.
We’ll talk more about our report in the coming weeks and months, because there is a lot to talk about. But if you have any questions contact email@example.com.
Mark, Kauw, our Chief Impact Officer, recently toured a handful of our FairChain smallholders high up in the Kaffa region of Ethiopia. Many of his posts already populate these pages. He could write a book about his week, but instead we offer here a photographic overview of his journey at the peak of the new coffee harvest.
As Mark travels to Moyee’s various Ethiopian smallholders, he continues to pick up a few friends along the way. On his most recent trip he brought four talented students from Jimma University’s agriculture department. Their names? Amanuel, Altaye, Abayneh and Abraham. Or, as Mark calls them, ‘Quadruple A Quality’.
“All the farmers are pointing out the same problem: disease,” says Abraham, a plant pathologist. “They spend a lot of time preventing coffee plant diseases like cholera, which severely damages the plant and a reduces the quality of the cherry.”
We teamed up Abraham with our soil expert Inka, and the two of them having been happily making the rounds together.
“I feel like I can make an immediate contribution to Moyee’s farmer program,” Abraham says. “But I’ll be honest, this is valuable practical experience far beyond the university walls. This is great.”
A few weeks back we visited Bogale, one of our smallholders and a prominent figure in his local community. This week we paid him another visit. The purpose of our trip was to sit down with him and find out more about what he and his community of smallholders desire and need most.
We equals me (Mark), Ephrem (Moyee’s Supply Chain Manager) and Inka, our agrarian specialist. Inka was particularly interested in meeting Bogale. This is because Inka is a soil expert and she is here to assess the quality of the soil on Bogale’s farm. She’s pretty certain we can up the long-term productivity of Bogale’s farm, but she’s also curious if there are some quick wins for now. Like most Ethiopian smallholders, every little extra is a bonus.
Next week Inka will reveal to us — and we to you — what she found.
This is Mr. Bihonegn Adelaw, a 55-year smallholder on an incredibly beautiful farm near the Tega & Telu plantation in the Ethiopian highlands. A proud father of six, Bihonegn is very pleased with this year’s harvest, which is up on last year. His profits are up as well, in part because he sells a portion of his crop to Moyee. The current primary market price for a kilogram offers coffee cherries is is 10 Ethiopian birr (€0,42). But with Moyee’s FairChain Premium, Bihonegn receives 12 birr (€0,51) per kilo.
We visit Bihonegn on a bright sunny day with our translator Gashaw. Bihonegn greets us with his daughter, and his attention is immediately drawn to Gashaw’s WakaWaka solar powered light. Bihonegn is fascinated by the WakaWaka and wants one for himself.
“Right now I go through 3 penlights a week to keep my house lit at night,” he says. He does the calculation and says. “That costs me 350 birr (€14,90) a year.”
Bihonegn wants to buy Gashaw’s WakaWaka on the spot. The two of them enter a long drawn-out negotiation for the device, ending with Bihonegn lifting his hands and saying he trusts us to give him a good price.
Gashaw eventually sells him the WakaWaka for 300 birr (€12,70), which is a low price because, Gashaw adds, it is a test model. We promise Bihonegn and his daughter that we’ll come back later in the season to see how his WakaWaka is working out for him.
It’s little moments like this – improving the quality of life of hardworking smallholders — that make us proud to be in this business.
This week Moyee impact officer Mark Kauw heads to Ethiopia to see how the 2016 harvest is taking shape. He’ll use the Tega & Tula farm as his home base from which he’ll visit numerous Moyee smallholders in the area – tiny farms tucked away in the Ethiopian rainforest. This is where we find some of the world’s most exquisite coffee beans, beans handpicked by locals and laid out to dry naturally in the sun. Mark will be travelling with a team of experts in soil and coffee plants, and he’ll use his time wisely by sitting down with the farmers to discover what they need now and in the long term. Exciting!!
Some of you may already know Joost. He’s Moyee’s travelling barista, serving radically good coffee from the back of his hip van. But what you don’t know about Joost is that he’s an academic, too. When he heard about our Call the Farmer program he asked if he could pitch in. More than pitch in: it is now the subject of his university thesis.
“Social impact is only one part of the FairChain revolution; environment is just as important. Because if we want to drink coffee in 2050 we must start taking biodiversity more seriously,” says Joost. “My mission is transport the expertise of one of the world’s top agriculture institutes (The University of Wageningen) to the smallholder farmers of Ethiopia.”
So now, in addition to serving coffee Joost is sitting down with leading researchers from top-notch institutes like the University of Wageningen in Holland and Jimma University in Ethiopia. Not to mention visiting our smallholder farmers in the coffee highlands of Arabica’s birthplace.
His thesis deadline is February 2017. We promise to publish extracts.
Meet Mr. Bogale Gebre-Yesus. Not only is he the owner a very awesome name, but Bogale is also a very devoted coffee farmer.
Name: Bogale Gebre-Yesus Location: Tega Size of property: 2 hectares Community role: Head Administrator Tega
Like Zwedie, another partner smallholder recently profiled here, Bogale has a wife and seven children in the small highland village of Tega situated in the heart of Kaffa, the birthplace of Arabica.
Alongside coffee, Bogale also grows corn and teff. In his free time he is also the village administrator and oversees a community of no less than 250 smallholding coffee farmers. These farmers often come together to share a glass of Tej, a local honey wine, and discuss the possibility of a better life for themselves and their families. By offering Bogale access to better harvesting techniques and, of course, fairer prices, we are helping his entire community achieve more financial freedom. After all, that’s the least we can offer these world-class farmers.
We’re scoring quality Arabica from little-known smallholders in Ethiopia. Like Zewdie. He’d like to say ‘hello’.
Name: Zewdie Haile Location: Tega Size of property: 2 hectares Community role: Officer of Justice & Security
Mr. Zewdie Haile is one of 99 smallholder coffee farmers Moyee cooperates with in Ethiopia. Like many smallholders, Zewdie lives in a small house which he happily opens to anyone looking for a cup of self-harvested, roasted and ground coffee. Coffee is his career and his life – he has approximately 2 hectares of land to grow coffee on. That equals about 6,000 coffee shrubs, good for about 2,000 kg cherries each harvest. He uses absolutely no chemicals or pesticides, and the undeniable quality of his coffee drew us to his home, which he shares with his wife and 7 children, all of whom are in school.
Smallholders can’t go alone, and rely on larger plantations in the area to wash and dry their coffee. Zewdie sells his coffee to the nearby Tega & Tula farm. That’s how we first came into contact with him, because we work closely with Tega & Tula.
While quite typically as a high-quality smallholder, Zewdie is anything but average. He plays an active role in his community as an ‘officer of justice and security’. Everybody knows Zewdie, and his home is often filled with local villagers seeking advice. They also know him because he is one of the region’s passionate activists in uniting the strengths of smallholders in Ethiopia. You see, Zewdie knows his coffee is exceptional, and he also knows that smallholders working alone are powerless against the powerful Western buyers interested in great — and mostly cheap — coffee. We couldn’t agree more.