Into Africa-Creating Fair Trade in Kenya

Sorry that I haven't updated the zine. I have been in Rome and now Kenya for the past week trying to create a fair trade and organic certification system through a pilot program we are doing that involves the U.N, the Kenya government, the Embu Farmers Cooperative, our own roaster's cooperative, and a very enterprising group of young Kenyans trying to bring justice and income to the coffee farmers here (Kenya Fair Traders). It has been a wild ride between Ministers, farmers, World Bank consultants and a host of characters that combines Fellini, Dallas, the Apprentice and the Bogie movie, Casablanca.

The point is to try and create an audit trail for the financial transaction around coffee here. This has not been easy in the past, but with a new government, more openess and desire to see the farmers get more income, it appears that there is a breakthrough in this otherwise sad tale. We are also meeting with several groups to try and put into place an organic training and certification system that would be accepted internationally. There is already some great work being done here on that score, but it really needs resources, coordination and support from our end of the industry. I am very excited about this all.

Gotta go, today is another full day of meetings, negotiations, inspections...but no lions. I can't believe that I am in Kenya and haven't taken the opportunity to see lions, elephants and more. But there is so much work to be done over the next week that I am going to have to save that for the next time. I did see some giraffes and zebras, a hyena and a cheetah. So I guess I can't complain.

More soon. And I will get an update on Sumatra next week (it is incredibly difficult to communicate from here). Hopefully, we will soon be offering a great tasting Kenyan coffee that is good for the environment and actually gets real money to the farmers. If you are drinking Kenyan right now, look down in your cup and know that neither of those qualities are in there now, but we are hopeful and working on it.

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