Coffee sheds a ‘man’s crop’ tag as more women take part in farming crop

Friday June 16 2017

Edson Amani with his wife Happy Justine in their coffee farm.

Edson Amani with his wife Happy Justine in their coffee farm. The couple has learnt the benefits of unity in coffee production. Many couples are now discussing how together they can improve earnings from coffee. PHOTO | RACHEL KIBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By SEEDS OF GOLD TEAM
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The view that coffee is a man’s crop, thus, should only benefit them economically even though it is tended to by woman is slowly changing across East Africa.

While in Kenya the sector is gender sensitive as more women are cultivating the crop, and benefiting from it economically, in Tanzania, men still dominate the farming.

And stakeholders are working hard to change this way of operation to boost both production and earnings. Hivos East Africa, working with farmers in Tanzania, are incorporating women into coffee production by enlightening families on need to plan for income from coffee.

“Couples are now discussing how they can improve earnings from coffee and how this can help them in achieving their set goals,” said Charles Kaigwa, the HIVOS East Africa Country coordinator for Tanzania.

Working under Gender Action Learning System, the project involves getting couples to set both short and long–term farming goals together.

“We want to increase quality, quantity and women involvement in coffee farming. Initially, men would use family labour in coffee production but selfishly and solely budget for the income without involving their wives.” Therefore, some women would steal coffee from the family farm and sell to brokers secretly.

Farmer Happy Jasmine, however, noted the stealing is now a thing of the past since men and women are working together.

“We now plan and budget together and are happily enjoying coffee earnings as a family,” she said.

From the family’s two acres of coffee in Mwanga, her husband Edson Amani used to harvest between 50-50kg of the produce. But the yield has since increased to between 200-250kg following better management. The couple sell their coffee through Vuasu Cooperative Union earning about Sh150 per kilo.

By Rachel Kibui

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New organisation to support small seed companies

A new organisation to support small and medium sized seed companies in production and maintenance of quality seeds has been launched in Nairobi.

The Quality Seed Company, speared by African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), will offer support to seed farms in sub-Saharan Africa and will be headed by seasoned agriculturalist Andy Watt, a former head of Syngenta East and Southern Africa.

Watt expressed confidence in the new task saying his first order of business will be to build an interdependent relationship with seed companies as its customers and nurture trust and confidence. “We expect him to put up the right structures in place and get the company running to accomplish the need it was set out for,” said Denis Kyetere, Executive Director at AATF.

By Brian Okinda

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Experts call for use of data to curb perennial food shortage problem

Famine can be avoided if requisite data from various agencies is released to farmers, according to the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary.

Bett noted that big volumes of agriculture data sits in different forms and it is prudent that the information be transformed into ‘human consumable’ form and disseminated to the public.

“Information ranging from climate and rainfall patterns, droughts, trends in crop pests and diseases to the number of farmers in a particular area for ease in dissemination of farming subsidies should be put in the public domain so that it is easy to access it and facilitate decision-making,” he during the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) forum at the Ministerial Conference on Agriculture and Nutrition Data and the Fourth Agritec Africa International Exhibition in Nairobi this week.

He added that as challenges become more realistic, there is an urgent need for more open data.

The PS in the Ministry of Fisheries and Blue Economy, Prof Ntiba Micheni, called for the adoption of a culture of discussing issues and investing more in information gathering, analyses and sharing.

André Laperrière, the CEO of GODAN, called for accessibility of data by majority of people, to enable better decision-making and avert calamities propagated by lack of factual information.

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), director-general, David Bergvinson noted open data would help in achieving food security.

GODAN is an initiative that supports the proactive sharing of open data on agriculture and nutrition.

By Brian Okinda

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Implement packaging law, State told

Potato farmers want the government to enforce the law that requires all packaging of agricultural produce be in 50kg bags.

The law that had banned the use of 120kg extended bags hit a wall years ago after potato traders challenged it in court, noting they were not consulted as key stakeholders.

The court then stopped the implementation of the law allowing middlemen to continue packaging produce in 120kg bags.

Speaking during the recent potato conference and exhibition in Nairobi, the farmers from at least seven potato growing counties unanimously agreed to lobby the government to reinstate the regulations.

Peter Gakure, a potato farmer in Mau Narok, said they want the tubers packed in smaller bags so that they are paid per kilo rather than per bag.

Francis Kangethe, a potato trader, however maintained that they cannot buy potatoes in kilos from farmers when the mama mbogas buy in pails.

“One bag contains seven pails of potatoes and that is all the smallholder traders know and pay for. Therefore, it will be a huge loss on my side when I buy potatoes based on kilos then sell in pails,” the trader said.

Wachira Kaguongo, National Potato Council of Kenya chief executive, said that all is not lost as far as standard packaging regulations is concerned.

“The Agriculture Cabinet Secretary has powers to gazette packaging standards of any products, what we need is participation of farmers to support the initiative,” said Wachira.

By Leopold Obi