Another Blog post from our series of SIDshare blogs revisiting a trip to Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania in September 2015; where three SIDshare students met KEDA (Kilimanjaro Environmental Development Association)- our partner for the joint field centre venture . KEDA was established in 1992, and since then it has run a number of environmental and social projects including: educating local farmers about the benefits of organic agriculture; training in irrigation, soil and environmental conservation.
By Abigail Hutchings
The KLM Native Cooperative Union began in 1984 with the intention of providing farmers with a secure and reliable facility to sell their produce. KEDA work with the Cooperative Union by promoting organic and ethical farming in the Kilimanjaro area.
In September 2015 on a visit to Tanzania, members of SIDshare met Mr Kessy, the secretary of the Cooperative Society in Kirua Vunjo, and discussed the organisation’s work with KEDA.
Mr Sabass (KEDA leader) described how KEDA has presented informative seminars on the importance and practicalities of organic farming to society members since the year 2000. The seminars included examples and facts on the use of manure and other natural methods of fertilising crops. They also discouraged insecticides and other industrial chemicals by instead emphasising the higher price farmers can receive for organic produce.
Mr Kessy confirmed they ensure organic produce is genuine by sending experts to check the farms and their agricultural practises. Even throughout the coffee bean process, bags are named to confirm their origin. If non-organic practises are found, membership from the Cooperative Society is lost.
However Mr Kessy described the challenges the Cooperative Society faces.
Big companies, especially from Europe, are buying directly from farmers to improve the ethicality and transparency of their supply chain. They offer higher prices of 6000 Tanzanian shillings per kilogram, compared to the Cooperative Society prices of 2000 Tanzanian shillings per kilogram. The difference in offer is enough to turn farmers away from the lower Cooperative Society prices.
Simultaneously, individual farmers are organising themselves and creating their own coffee sapling nurseries and cooperatives, essentially cutting out the middle man.
Despite the benefits for coffee farmers, Mr Kessy faces losing his job as he justifies the low prices they offer are due to the fixed costs of the Cooperative Society building and employing him 5 days a week.
Whilst the future of the Cooperative Society in Kirua Vunjo is uncertain, KEDA’s work is prospering. The Cooperative Society is a platform for KEDA to speak to large volumes of people in local areas about the benefits of conservation and good agricultural practises. As this dynamic in the supply chain changes, KEDA will also need to adapt their communication techniques to ensure sustainable and organic agriculture continues.