Meet Charles Ngugi
Our first smallholder coffee farmer
Up to 80% of all farmers in East Africa are smallholder farms of up to 3 hectares. It is a struggle for the farmers who only have a limited number of crops and one harvest per year. The small-hold farms are merely the beginning of a very long complicated supply chain, their yield is low, and the level of poverty hinders investments in more effective growing mechanisms. Youth, having little hope of a better future, migrate to urban areas and other countries, with the result that the average age of farmers is 60 years old. These are just a few of the structural challenges that smallholder farmers face. With a growing population and the effects of climate change gradually being felt, the future of farming in East Africa looks somewhat bleak and unsustainable. This has to change!
Charles Ngugi is a hardworking, highly competent coffee farmer who grows some of the most incredible Arabica plants on earth. He owns a small 2.5 hectare coffee farm in the mountains, just a few hours north of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Charles has been a farmer his entire life, and the land he farms, has been passed down through generations. However, over the past decades, stagnating global coffee prices have meant that Charles has struggled to make ends meet. Even though he grows high quality coffee, the numerous other actors in the coffee supply chain mean that he is paid very little. What´s more, he has no banking facilities and his one yearly payment from his coffee production is insufficient to maintain his farm and household, making it impossible for him to secure the future of his three children.