Economic empowerment through coffee farming

Redemuta Coffee Farmer

Redemuta is a coffee farmer in rural Kenya. She is an 80-year-old mother of five, currently living with her school-aged grandchild. She became involved in coffee farming after she lost her husband in 1987 and had to take over the management of their farm. Although their land was automatically passed on to her, as a woman, the legal transfer process was not easy. She has since subdivided her land allotting it to her 3 sons.

Redemuta sells her coffee to the coffee processing firm Café Del Duca Ltd (CDDL) which is a MEDA partner. Through the M-SAWA project, funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC), MEDA is working with CDDL to support smallholder farmers like Redemuta to improve the quality and quantity of coffee produced while linking them to the markets. Redemuta has received various trainings through the M-SAWA project, in addition to increasing her interactions with CDDL field officers. She has been trained on coffee tree maintenance through proper pruning methods, spacing the coffee trees, and intercropping so that she can improve her food security by producing other crops.

Redemuta now grows coffee on her two acres of land which has approximately 200 coffee trees and exclusively sells her coffee to CDDL for KES 45 per kilogram. Before engaging with CDDL she would sell to middlemen for lower prices that were frequently manipulated based on seasonal fluctuations, leading to a much less consistent income. She also appreciates the partnership with CDDL because she has been receiving prompt payments and the coffee berries are picked up directly from her home.

Additionally, Redemuta received a Technical Adoption Grant through M-SAWA which enabled her to acquire farm tools, including a knapsack sprayer, pruning saw, secateurs, and panga which help her properly maintain her coffee trees. She also benefited from the project’s Small Entrepreneur Alliance Grant by gaining access to a quality portable coffee drying table with other CDDL farmers. This has enabled Redemuta and her fellow group members to avoid yearly expenses they previously incurred from making wooden drying tables as well as reduced the distance they needed to travel to access the drying tables.

Redemuta feels strongly that coffee farming has improved her family’s livelihood; “today I can afford to buy food from the sales of the coffee berries.” She also notes that her production levels have improved, with her coffee trees yielding more coffee berries per tree than before. She is excited that for the first time she had been able to buy a mobile phone that she uses to communicate more easily with her family and CDDL field extension officers.

As coffee takes a long time to mature she plans to use the knowledge acquired through the training she received through the project to start intercropping, thus diversifying her sources of income while also continuing to provide food for her family. Redemuta also intends to continue working with CDDL and is confident that that over time her coffee berries will fetch even higher prices.

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  • MEDA is an international economic development organization that creates business solutions to poverty.