Cafedirect improving farmers’ livelihoods
An uphill battle won in Kenya
The Cafedirect Producers Foundation (CPF) has been active for several years, changing the lives of farmers all over the world. The secret to its success? A focus on sustainability. While the foundation is first and foremost a helping hand to farmers, its true value lies in the ability to assist in sharing information through its Centres of Excellence.
Let’s go on a journey across the Mediterranean Sea, far into the lush Nandi Hills of west Kenya. It’s here where we find the inspirational story of Luke Metto, a farmer with a vision for the future.
Introducing the Centres of Excellence
CPF founded the Centres of Excellence to help farmers teach other farmers in best practice farming techniques. And while it’s true that smallholders are generally not recognised as innovators, the farmers in Kenya who are part of the Sireet Outgrower Empowerment Programme have swiftly changed that perception! Facing many challenges, they have shown great innovation and drive in developing solutions.
Impressed with the programme, CPF has been working closely with these smallholders since 2007. They established the Centre of Excellence as living, learning classrooms to test new ideas and to train visiting farmers. Run by the farmers themselves, we meet up with Luke.
Meet Luke Metto
Luke Metto is a retired teacher with a vibrant sense of humour and a passion for thinking outside the box when it comes to farming his land. Through his work at the Sireet Outgrower Empowerment Programme he came into contact with CPF in 2010. Climate change had been running rampant in the area and the land that was suitable for farming decreased each year. Worried by the trend, Luke became one of the key teachers at the newly formed Sireet-OEP Centre for Excellence.
Naturally, Luke’s first aim was to show other smallholders how to farm in an innovative way on a small piece of land. As a farmer himself with but a small 3 acre plot to his disposal, Luke had experience in how to maximise the potential of his land. He had divided it into sections: there’s a kitchen garden to grow fresh vegetables, a series of beehives producing honey and also an artificial wetland. On this wetland, Luke was able to grow some of the tallest Arrow Root plants local extension workers have ever seen! And to think that this wetland had only been made possible due to a farmer exchange visit… Talk about an excellent example of farmers working together on sharing useful knowledge.
Hands up for diversification
Luke’s biggest achievement has been his use of simple hydroponic techniques to help develop a zero-grazing unit for cows. What’s in a name? Hydroponics is a farming technology that does not require any soil, but instead uses a water-based solution that contains all the nutrients plants need to grow. It basically means you need but a small space, which will deliver a high yield. That means that you can feed your livestock on limited plots of land, using the rest of the land for other income purposes.
That’s an important step, as price volatility of products, coupled with decreasing yields due to climate change mean that farmers’ incomes and livelihoods are under a constant threat. In simple terms: relying on a single crop is a risky business for smallholder farmers, so diversification is essential!
Having now diversified his land, Luke is living a much more financially stable life. The income from his small microenterprises has allowed him to invest more in his farm. Looking towards the future, he is excited about expanding his current business as well as continuously looking to innovate further.
Luke’s site is flourishing and it’s not gone unnoticed by visitors from other farming groups. More and more farmers who have come to visit Luke’s farm are able to go back home with fresh ideas they can implement, as well as share their progress through the farmers’ network. In order to facilitate the visiting smallholders wanting to try one of the new approaches they have discovered, the Centre of Excellence has seed funds available for them.
The result of the entire enterprise is a simple one: the Cafedirect Producers Foundation is known as an extremely sustainable support model, enabling African producers to improve their knowledge, their decision-making skills and their overall livelihoods. Well done team!
Donate to the Cafedirect Producers’ Foundation (via JustGiving) now & change a life: https://www.justgiving.com/gaurogrqpb/donate/