Project Kenya

Introducing the rules of the international market to Kenyan coffee farmers

If you order a cup of coffee, you mainly want it to taste good. In the international market, however, more requirements are set. Are there good working conditions at the coffee plantations? Is production environmentally friendly? With the support of Hivos and coffee trader ECOM / SMS, small coffee farmers in Kenya receive training to be able to meet these requirements.

Most co-operative farmers are ill equiped to take full advantage of these new opportunities in the coffee business. Low production levels, usually 4 to 5 times lower than that of well managed coffee plantations in the same region, are unlikely to guarantee them any tangible benefit. Cooperative farmers lack knowledge on basic mangement and crop husbandry skills such as pruning, coffee handling, soil management, etc. and yet today’s coffee trade demand that they comprehend issues such as cupping, intergrated pest management (IPM), transparent record keeping and a respect for economic, social and environmental responsibility.

To take advantage of the opportunities and address the weaknesses of smallholder cooperative farmers, Sustainable Management Services Ltd. (SMS) was established on 24 July 2006 by Ecom Agroindustrustrial Corp Ltd in Switzerland and Sangana Commodities Ltd. Kenya. SMS focuses on management services for smallholders and small/medium estates, creating sustainable and feasible farming units through “best practices”. SMS offers coffee extension and advisory services on all aspects of coffee business, farm management services, training on best coffee practice, and coffee liquouring and quality training services, coffee sustainability and certification, risk management in coffee business, proposal writing and project managent on behalf of producers and provision of farm inputs and credit facilities to run the coffee business.

Hivos supports SMS because it addresses one of Hivos major concerns in Sustainable Production, namely incusion of smallholder coffee farmers in world quality markets.

Kenya coffee is in high demand on the world market due to its inherent superior quality. Consequently, premiums for these coffees have the potential to be high. The introduction of certification (eg. Starbucks, Fairtrade, CAFE practices, Rain Forest Alliance, Organic Coffee and Utz Kapeh) has the potential of adding further value to those premiums.

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