How coffee is making the women of Kenya stronger

    Esther Koskei

    Fairtrade coffee is helping to empower and change the lives of women working in agriculture in East Africa. That’s the message that will be delivered next week by Fairtrade coffee producer from Kenya, Esther Koskei during a talk in Tunbridge Wells.

    Fairtrade Africa launched a three-year project in 2015 to support female coffee farmers in Kenya, and Ms Koskei is vice chair of Kabngetuny Women in Coffee Cooperative in the country.

    It is estimated that women supply 70 per cent of the labour on farms in Kenya but the land and assets usually belong to the menfolk in the family.

    Women have traditionally been excluded from joining farming cooperatives or earning income from their work.

    Fairtrade’s Growing Women in Coffee project has led to the transfer of coffee bush ownership to 300 women within the Kabngetuny Cooperative.

    As part of the scheme they have been given training on agricultural practices in order to help them increase the yield and quality of their produce.

    They have also benefited from the provision of green energy biogas units for their homes, which reduce exposure to smoke and the time spent collecting firewood.  Kipkelion Union, which represents 32 cooperatives including Kabngetuny, has worked with Fairtrade to develop and market a ‘women’s coffee’ for sale in Kenya.

    David Finlay, Fundraising Manager at Fairtrade Foundation, said: “By working with the women in these co-operatives to roast, grind, package and sell their beans as ‘women’s coffee’, we hope they will be able to increase the amount they sell on Fairtrade terms, which will bring benefits for their whole community”. The Growing Women in Coffee project has been supported by a grant of £389,831 from the Big Lottery Fund, the first donation it has made to Fairtrade.

    The talk will take place at Baptist Church in Upper Grosvenor Road from 7.30-9.30pm on Wednesday, March 1. Admission is free, and Fairtrade refreshments will be provided.