Samson Kiprono is the chairman of Kabngetuny Farmers cooperative in Kericho County, to the South West of Kenya. When Fairtrade Africa initiated processes of certification in 2010, his cooperative was mainly run by men, who owned thousands of coffee bushes. Fairtrade Africa encouraged the men to donate a few bushes in each farm to the women as an aspect of promoting women involvement in farming.
Then, according to Kiprono, something very interesting started to happen, the bushes managed by women registered an increase in production raising output from 1Kg per bush to 2,1Kg per year. The men were not amused, and the cooperative had to employ diplomacy to ensure the bushes still remained in the hands of women.
Since then, the men have upped their game with each farmer now producing 4kgs per coffee bush. This is four times the amount farmers in this cooperative are now producing which is attributed to the inclusion of women in farming.
“We are still facing marketing challenges, by through Fairtrade certification, we have been able to raise our production by both genders, as well as involving the youth in production,” said Kiprono.
According to Fairtrade, female farmers in Kenya rarely own land or coffee bushes, despite contributing up to 70 per cent of the labour required to plant, grow and harvest coffee.
The organisation notes that assets usually belong to the men in the family and as a result, women are unable to join farming cooperatives or earn an income for their labour.
Fairtrade is an aspect of production whereby agricultural producers are shielded against bad prices and on their part they ensure ethical production of their produce which include better remuneration for labour, good agricultural practices, environmental conservation and involvement of women and youth. Fairtrade products are nomally premium products with the consumer paying more money for a product and the extra money fetched going towards sustainable production.
Fairtrade Africa Executive Director, Dr. Nyagoy Nyong’o says ‘fairtrade’ straddles across all sectors of agricultural production touching on youth and gender, farm workers, purchasing price as well as environmental conservation.
“Fairtrade has made it possible for smallholder farmers to move large volumes of products to the market. The extra shillings we pay on top of the Fairtrade minimum price is invested by the farmers in social, environmental and economic projects in their communities. Such projects include schools, health centres, and boreholes among others. This improves the welfare of the communities,” Dr. Nyong’o said.
More than 400 delegates comprising representatives of smallholder farmers, workers, producers and other stakeholders from across the continent have convened in Nairobi to discuss how to improve trade conditions and global-markets access during the sixth edition of the Africa Fairtrade Convention (AFC).
The delegates have discussed a mix of strategies that they can adapt to gain a share in the global supply chains and markets. The delegates likewise have explored ways of strengthening networks, building relationships and developing new trade frontiers for sustainable trade. The annual convention aims to improve livelihoods through Fairtrade alliances.
“This year’s convention is geared towards improving partnerships in trade for Sustainable Development Goals and improving the livelihoods of Fairtrade certified farmers in Africa. I urge players to take advantage of our global recognition to penetrate new markets and receive better earnings from their produce,” Fairtrade Africa Executive Director, Dr. Nyagoy Nyong’o said during the three-day event.
Themed ‘Partnerships for Impact’, the bi-annual convention brought together smallholder farmers, workers, non-governmental organizations, governments, agricultural producers, international traders and micro-financers from Africa and beyond to discuss how to improve trade.