Kilimanjaro’s fair trade farmers
On the slopes of Africa’s highest mountain lies a collective of fair trade coffee farmers. Historically, coffee in the region was grown by colonial settlers on big plantations. Small-scale farmers just couldn’t compete. In 1933, the Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union (KNCU) was established to give indigenous coffee farmers a higher stake in the world market.
KNCU is the nation’s oldest coffee cooperative and certainly one of the largest, representing 100,000 fair trade coffee farmers, many of them also organic growers. Certified under Fairtrade Africa in 1993, KNCU was looking for a way to boost coffee sales, but also secure shared benefits for its farmers. “When we were told that fair trade provided a minimum price and social standards, the Cooperative was encouraged to switch,” says Anthanasio Massenha, KNCU’s General Manager.
Fairtrade Africa represents the interests of 320 fair trade-certified producers in 26 African countries, working to connect them with consumers worldwide. Their unique partnership with KNCU has resulted in social and environmental working standards, but also community programs that seek to empower and make a positive difference in the local community.
Fair trade dollars, know as “premiums”, support development programs within the community. “We set up a premium over and above the market price that the consumer pays toward the social economic development of these communities,” says Amos Thiong’o, Fairtrade Africa’s Regional Manager. “We want to improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers.”
Fairtrade Africa is triple bottom line responsibility at its best.