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Rainforest Alliance & Gusii farmers meld coffee production with regenerative agri

International NGO the Rainforest Alliance is working with 10,000 smallholder coffee farmers in the coffee-producing highlands of Gusii, western Kenya, as well as local supply-chain actors to create healthy and productive farms, restore fragile ecosystems, and boost farmer incomes through regenerative agriculture

The project dubbed Gusii Regenerative Agriculture Landscape (GuRAL) Coffee Project will be conducted in Kisii and Nyamira Counties between 2023-2025. 

It will be spearheaded by the Rainforest Alliance and its partners—local coffee farmers and American-Dutch coffee company Jacobs Douwe Egberts. It plans to tackle the urgent concerns of declining production and incomes for coffee farmers across the region as well as increased use of harmful agrochemicals by scaling market-led landscape and community initiatives rooted in regenerative agriculture best practices. 

According to a statement by the organisation: “Kenya is known worldwide for its smooth, full-bodied, Arabica coffee, which is grown mostly by smallholder farmers, Kenyan coffee production has declined by around 50 per cent over the past 25 years, stagnating at around 40,000 metric tons per year. 

Climate change, ageing coffee trees, soil degradation, and unsustainable water use contribute to this stagnation, and many farming cooperatives are unable to support their members with essential services like soil analysis, training, and financial credit

Add to this the heavy use of harmful agrochemicals and intense land conversion, the sector is extremely vulnerable to environmental challenges. 

All of these factors have negatively impacted the supply and demand for Kenyan coffee by increasing the risks for coffee buyers and brands looking to source more sustainably grown beans. This in turn has a direct negative impact on the household incomes of Kenya’s smallholder coffee farmers.” 

The project will also include Gusii Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (GCFCU), 16 affiliated coffee cooperative society members, Community Forest Associations (CFAs), and Water Resources Users Associations (WRUAs). 

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