A land of coffee
With their cool temperatures, good rainfall, and rich soil, the lush valleys of Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands are well suited for growing arabica coffee. Honde Valley, in the Mutasa district, now has more than 300 active coffee farmers. For the past two years, the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program has trained these smallholders in agronomy and processing to help them produce the highest-quality coffee and grow their businesses.
A commitment to coffee
Jesca Kangai, 35, lives in Pangeti village in the Mutasa district. She’s been growing coffee for nearly 20 years, over a period that saw many other farmers in the area switch to growing other exports such as bananas due to poor access to the global coffee market. In a time when coffee just didn’t seem a worthwhile endeavor, Jesca persevered, and now the skills, higher yields, and increased income she’s earned have made her passion and resilience all worth it.
Jesca’s business is growing
Jesca and her family decided to try growing coffee in the late 1990s and it’s proven to be a promising undertaking. Jesca’s farm now boasts more than 3,500 coffee trees, the profits from which have allowed her to reinvest additional income in farm animals like goats and chickens, and send her son to the best school in the community – something that she sees as a huge personal achievement.
A more accessible income
Jesca carefully tends to her plants. Her dedication to the finer points of practices like irrigation and pruning have led to the improvement of her coffee yield and also her income. Even though there is little-to-no cash circulating in Zimbabwe (most use Bond Notes in leu of currency), AAA farmers receive payments for their harvest in US dollars. A widely accepted form of payment globally, these well-earned dollars now give farmers like Jesca better access to the products and services that will continue to grow their businesses.
Everyone benefits from training, including the trainers
Here, agronomist Tafadzwa Nyakuchena provides a hands-on lesson in the field. At these demonstration plots, farmers can directly see the benefits of adopting newer cultivation methods. Tafadzwa himself is reaping the rewards of working with the AAA program. Not only is he enjoying helping farmers progress their lives, planting more than 1000 coffee seedlings to give to those who want to join the growing industry, he’s also building a new home for him and his wife.
Discussing over coffee
Reviving Zimbabwe’s coffee industry has pulled farmers together into a more cohesive social group. Those who attend training sessions for their coffee practices also discuss ideas for community development. There’s lots to talk about now, coffee once again becoming a perennial crop has sparked economic growth in the area—including the creation of jobs, as growers use their increased income to hire additional labour for their farms.
Hope continues to grow
Zachariah Mukwinya, 38, lives in Chavhanga village and is the focal farmer for his area. He attends meetings with the AAA Sustainable Quality Program and the Coffee Commodity Association, where he gets advice and shares those updates with his group of farmers. He gets trained, has valuable support from the program’s agronomists, and enjoys helping his community become better coffee growers. He’s even developed a nursery to supply other farmers with coffee seedlings.
Good news travels fast
Zachariah has seen a big change in farmers’ knowledge of agronomy practices since Nespresso launched the AAA Sustainable Quality program. It’s had such a positive impact on daily life in Honde Valley that the program has now expanded into the surrounding regions of Chimanimani, Chipinge, and Vumba. Apparently, word of success travels as once the program started in these areas, agronomists were greeted with “Where have you been? We’ve been waiting for you!”
More coffee stories here.