Climate academy in kenya fairtrade germany

Ethiopia is considered the cradle of coffee cultivation, and it is here that the greatest diversity of wild varieties of Arabica coffee exists. Today, coffee production is the country's largest source of income. According to a study by British researchers and Ethiopian scientists, climate change is the biggest challenge facing the country in the future – by 2099, around 60 percent of Ethiopia's coffee-growing land could become unusable. Over 15 million farmers and 14 million people working in the coffee industry would be affected.

However, the changing weather conditions are already having a significant impact on Ethiopian and also Kenyan producers. Studies show that the adaptive capacity of the Arabica coffee bean has already been weakened by climate change. Temperature increases and more frequent dry periods reduce yields as well as quality and favor pest infestations and diseases. Local developments exacerbate the problem: Between 1973 and 2005, 33 percent of Ethiopia's forest area disappeared. If this continues, in 25 years there will be no forest left to provide important shade and protect the soil from drying out and erosion.

Develop alternatives

climate academy in kenya fairtrade germany

Coffee farmers are proud to be part of the climate project. © Transfair e.V. / Orientation Travel Productions

But there is hope: The Climate Academy – a cooperation between Fairtrade International, the Max Havelaar Foundation in the Netherlands, the Food Cabinet and the International Institute of Coffee Research – is training smallholders in Ethiopia and Kenya until the end of 2019. In this way, Fairtrade wants to raise awareness, especially among those who have little knowledge, to adapt to the consequences of climate change. Thus, producer groups in Ethiopia and Kenya are trained on sustainable and climate-resilient agricultural cultivation methods such as crop rotation, planting shade trees, improving soil fertility or producing seeds. If producers move to higher altitudes for cultivation and if forests are reforested and protected, coffee harvests can even be increased.

Farmers learn from experts and from each other, as selected farmers pass on their knowledge to others. A climate academy guide aims to capture best practices and lessons learned and make them available to other producer organizations. This will allow them to shape their own adaptation process. As a result, there will be a multiplier effect. Make the project scalable to other regions.

Biogas oven after training

climate academy in kenya fairtrade germany

Experts impart knowledge, which is then passed on among themselves. © Transfair e.V. / Roger van Zaal

One of the participants in the Climate Academy is Kenyan coffee farmer James Nzau Ndeto. He is proud of his own plantation and wants to produce high-quality organic coffee with his cooperative: "Through the Climate Academy, we have learned important techniques. Such as crop rotation, so that the soil remains nutritious and can recover between growing different crops." Coffee farmer Judy Ruto has also benefited from the training: "We are now planting more trees and will hopefully soon be able to buy new coffee plants that are better protected against drought." Eunice Metto from Kabngetuny, Kenya explains, "We don't use expensive pesticides so as not to kill the worms and insects that keep the soil porous."His wife Joanne adds, "It's also important to grow multiple crops so we don't just depend on coffee. Therefore, I now also plant tea, tomatoes, onions, cabbage and bananas."

All those who have successfully participated in a training course are given the right to switch from a wood-burning stove to a biogas stove. This means great progress for the environment. 97 percent of Ethiopian households use firewood for cooking, resulting in large-scale deforestation. To accelerate the use of renewable energy, Fairtrade – in collaboration with the Fair Climate Fund – has so far donated nearly 7.000 clean biogas stoves installed. The gas is fed by the fermentation of cow dung, firewood is no longer needed. This protects the forests. Reduces CO2 emissions by 90 percent.

In addition, much less harmful soot particles are released in the houses and eye and respiratory diseases are significantly reduced. The biogas plants also provide new jobs, because they are produced and maintained locally. In addition, women and girls no longer have to collect firewood, and cooking is faster. The climate academy therefore not only protects the environment, it also offers economic and social benefits.

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