Premiums bring light to the community to boost coffee production.
Robert Ndirangu is a coffee farmer from Rumukia Co-operative. He has been carrying his coffee for more than five kilometers to deliver to the nearest factory. Each time he would limit the amount he could carry to the factory due to weight and distance, not to mention the bad road covering the distance. This made Ndirangu to limit the kilograms of coffee cherries to the collection center due to the distance and the terrible roads especially upon a heavy downpour.
The time he spends in the farm, is limited as he has to deliver the coffee to the factory, weigh it, grade it and record his delivery before he is assured of the pay at the end of the year.
But today, Ndirangu is a happy farmer. There is a coffee collection center nearer to his farm. The Matira-Ini coffee collection center was constructed by funds from the Constituency Development Fund CDF.
For the center to operate, it needed office furniture for the clerks, a weighing machine, electricity and other equipment. The co-operative Society was quick to come and in and install electricity, buy office furniture and the weighing machine, using premium funds from Fairtrade coffee.
This has saved the time for farmers like Ndirangu. “I can deliver up to one bag of coffee in a day, compared to one tin, when I used to walk 5.4 kilometers,” says Ndirangu smiling.
The availability of electricity according to Charles Mwangi, the factory manager, has resulted to more hours of work by the clerks and the farmers.
“Farmers can now deliver more coffee, sort it and grade it. There is light to ensure that coffee is delivered even at late hours and the clerks are there to receive the coffee,” says Mwangi.
The huge weighing machine has made work easier for the farmers when they deliver their coffee.
Not only has the electricity made life easier for the farmers, but it has also provided safety in the area.
“The center is well lit. There is adequate security guaranteeing safety for both the machines and the coffee and in general the security for the community,” says Robert Wanyaga, board member for one of the primary factories under Rumukia Farmers’ Co-operative society, Gatura factory.
Ndirangu says before installation of electricity using Fairtrade premiums, the collection center was using diesel generators to provide light.
“This was so costly and it affected our earnings, as much money was spent buying the diesel, which could not last long enough to allow all farmers deliver and sort their coffee till later hours.” In addition fumes were becoming a health hazard to the farmers.