Sustainability is a broad and sometimes a bit difficult to define concept. For us at Zoégas, it is about total sustainability that includes environmental, economic and social sustainability throughout the coffee chain - from growers' conditions and work, to production in Helsingborg. Changing Coffee expresses our ambition to change the coffee industry for the better through good examples.
Growing and producing coffee sustainably is a necessity to nurture our planet and secure the supply of quality coffee in the future. We know that there are many things that can be improved to make cultivation and production more sustainable. But also that there is a lot you can do to achieve this, in addition to, for example, organic certification.
Zoéga's sustainability work largely focuses on educating coffee growers in sustainable cultivation, in the Coffee By Women project. At the same time, we strive to constantly reduce our CO2 footprint. At Zoégas, we work long-term as we believe that the big difference happens over time. By helping small-scale and medium-sized coffee growers, without requiring them to sell their coffee to us, we can make a long-term difference in the form of higher production and profitability for the growers, with an increased supply of sustainably grown coffee as a result.
Our ambition to change the coffee industry for the better permeates everything we do, and in our daily work, the term Changing Coffee serves as a reminder of just this - both for us at Zoégas and for our partners and consumers. Appreciating a cup of Zoégas is not only a matter of taste, but also of knowing that it is sustainably grown and produced.
Read three stories from a couple of growers who have participated in one of our trainings a little further down the page.
My name is Tabitha Muthoni Waweru and I am 32 years old.
I run coffee and tea cultivation and started with coffee cultivation in 2015. I am married and have three children and work with my husband in the coffee industry to have the opportunity to support our family. My land is 0.8 hectares with 72 trees consisting of Ruiru 11 and Batian. I deliver to Kenongerama.
We have experienced ups and downs in the coffee industry due to poor prices and sometimes late payments. Other challenges we face include expensive farm investments that reduce profits. Effects of changing climatic conditions have also affected the quality of the coffee produced. I have had the opportunity to participate in training where I have received more information about good agricultural practice and thus not been much affected by the challenges that exist with coffee cultivation.
Before I started working with coffee cultivation, I had no source of income and was dependent on corn cultivation with very low prices and sometimes I therefore did not go break-even.
Coffee is more profitable and has helped me meet the needs of the family and has helped me support my husband in the construction of a water tank that helps us irrigate during the dry seasons.
Every year I invest 10,000 Kenyan shillings and can produce 190 kg of coffee. With the knowledge from the education, I intend to increase the production of coffee to 1400 kg per year. This will help increase the income from coffee growing and help me to be able to hire labor when the need arises. At the moment I do all the work required myself, which takes a long time in periods. One of my proud moments in coffee growing was 2018, when I was able to finance the construction of a water pond to help with irrigation during the dry season.
My name is Martin Kimtai Mochomu, I am married and have five children. I am a farmer in the Kapkurongo Cooperative and have been growing since 2017. I have been doing this for three years and am therefore still relatively new to coffee growing. I have a quarter acre of coffee, that means about 150 trees, of the new Batian variety.
Right now I harvest about 440 kg per season. It is about three kilos per tree. So I still have a long way to go but through the training we have had with the agronomist, I know that next year I will be able to harvest 3.5 kilos and after that I can improve a little every year.
In the beginning I looked for jobs everywhere, sometimes I had a job and sometimes I was without. I therefore had no stable source of income and it created a lot of uncertainty for my family. I had to look around for what else I could support myself with and I chose coffee because it is easy to handle and the market is not saturated in the same way. It is also worth mentioning that it is really exciting and every day there are several activities to perform on the farm.
So far I have invested Kenya shilling.15, 000 and I will invest more in the expansion of the farm. Coffee growing has created a job for me and now also my two employees.
Through our agent, we heard about the Nestlé partnership - and we thank God for Nestlé. Coffee is a perennial crop and therefore you need to know exactly what to do. I almost gave up the coffee business before Nestlé came into the picture because we would lose so much production due to poor farming practices. It is not easy to get a good agronomist, and those that are available I can not afford. But this type of training, I think I will be able to harvest 10 kg per tree in the next five years.
Lillian is a young woman who owned land with a total of 100 coffee bushes in 2017. <- she still owns 100 coffee bushes, can you instead say that she has owned 100 coffee bushes since 2017? This after taking over them from her parents, the only legacy she has as it looks today. The 100 shrubs include the old K7 variety and Ruiru. She supplies to Kaughi Wetlands which is affiliated with Mukarwa FCS.
She has been in this business for two years and currently she can harvest 140kgs. With this type of production, Lillian finds it difficult to go break-even, which is one of the reasons why young adults in Kenya are discouraged from cultivating coffee. This means that she only harvests 1.4 kg of shrubs. The last time an economic sustainability study was done in Kenya was in 2018 and then indicated that the economic sustainability of a small farmer such as Lillian in Kenya was 2.53 kenya shillings, which means that Lillian is currently not economically sustainable. But the brighter side of it all is that the break-even point is 1.28 kg, which means that her business can cover her costs and even leave a small margin for her.
Nestlé's "Coffee by Women" initiative was launched in its co-operative in January 2019. It aims to help farmers improve their economic sustainability. The program has hired motorized agronomists to train farmers on their farms. This type of training method is beneficial for young adults like Lillian who have small children and who do not have much time and opportunity to get to a common training place.
The program within Lillian's co-operative also has a number of places to demonstrate the work they teach. This means that farmers have the opportunity to witness the real activities but also see the benefits of doing it the right way.
Improved productivity will reduce production costs and thus increase the profit margin. However, there are other factors that came into play such as climatic conditions, access to capital and fertilizers (which they can afford) and also price stability.
Although her land is small, Lillian is determined to make her business sustainable, until today she has invested in Kenya Shilling. 8,000 and this only on fertilizer because she can perform most other manual activities with the help of her parents.
Unlike many other young people in the village, Lillian hopes for her coffee cultivation. She strives to harvest 1500 kg for the next five years - which would mean 15 kg / tree. She also believes that through "Coffee by Women" she will have many coffee management skills and for her it is Nestle / CMS that provides exactly what she needs to make her business sustainable.