Fairtrade Africa and the Fairtrade Foundation have launched a three-year project that will empower women coffee farmers in Kenya and increase the East African market for Fairtrade certified coffee.
Despite contributing up to 70 per cent of the labour required to plant, grow and harvest coffee, women farmers in Kenya rarely own land or coffee trees. These assets usually belong to the men in the family and as a result, women are unable to join farming co-operatives or earn an income for their labour. However, research shows that when women are in control of more household income, there are improved outcomes in areas such as health, education and investments.
Fairtrade’s Growing Women in Coffee project will encourage the transfer of coffee tree ownership to 150 women coffee farmers in the Kapkiyai Co-operative, enabling them to earn an independent income for the first time. A further 300 women within the Kabngetuny Co-operative, who have already benefitted from an asset-transfer programme, will receive training on good agricultural practices with the aim of increasing the yield and quality of their coffee. They will also benefit from the construction of ‘green energy’ biogas units for their homes, which will reduce exposure to smoke and reduce the time they spend collecting firewood.
Kipkelion Union, which brings together 32 cooperatives including Kapkiyai and Kabngetuny, will be supported by Fairtrade Africa to develop and market a branded ‘women’s coffee’ for sale within Kenya. It will also be able to share the learnings from the pilot with the other 30 cooperatives that it represents. The Growing Women in Coffee project will be funded from January 2015 to December 2017 by a grant of £389,831 from the Big Lottery Fund in the UK (the first such grant it has made to Fairtrade), plus additional funding from the Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission, and will be delivered with support from local partners, Solidaridad Eastern and Central Africa Expertise Center (SECAEC) and Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers (KENFAP).