Full Disclosure: I work for Mocha Joe’s Coffee Roasters in Brattleboro, VT. I also happen to be Director of Organic Certification (though not for very long), so I’m not at all neutral on the topic of funding this program which Pierre and Mocha Joe’s staff cooked up several years ago.
All that being said, you should go to IndieGoGo right now and support Mocha Joe’s in supporting Organic coffee farmers in Oku and Mbessa.
Believe it or not, we’re not exactly profitable yet. In time we will be; we have no desire to have to come back to the well time and again for people to support our effort to improve the leverage of small-holder coffee farmers. For now (and probably the next year or so) Mocha Joe’s Organic Growers is operating in the red. We’ve been able to do that thanks primarily to the largesse of our owner and founder Pierre. While that’s awesome, we know we can do more and get to that elusive sustainable sweet spot with some help. Thus, we’ve launched a campaign to raise funds for the Organic certification program in general and a new scheme to connect our farmers with formal credit markets in particular.
The general part is to give us some breathing room as we expand the program towards a sustainable level. This year we nearly doubled our organic production over our first year. With that kind of growth we should be getting to a sustainable level within about 3-4 years and in each of those years we’ll be closing the gap so that we’re not hemorrhaging money as we go. We have a couple of tactics that are going to help ensure this:
1. Supplying our farmers with new trees. We have an aggressive nursery program in the works that is going to help our farmers replant their fields with young, healthy, disease-resistant stock. Within 5 years this alone should boost the organic production a significant percent.
2. We’re going to favor slightly larger farmers in the future for entrance into the program. These ‘larger’ farmers are still small-holders (I’m yet to meet a farmer in all of Oku/Mbessa with more than 3-hectares under coffee) but small-holders who can produce at least 100 kg of coffee. A farmer who is putting in the appropriate work with their fields should be able to produce 100 kg with less than 200 coffee trees on about 0.2 hectares, so this is no great feat. In the meanwhile, Jude and I (or at least Jude) will continue providing technical support to those smaller farmers to help them raise up to a more tenable level of production.
So your support will get this program that much closer to the point of sustainability. From here, we continue carrying the ball until it starts supporting itself. Thanks for all the support in advance.
(Pssst…I want to point out that the $30 gift of 1 lb of coffee is pretty close to the basic price Starbucks was charging for their own version of Oku coffee [some of which comes from Bafoussam, about a 4 hour drive from Oku]. Not for nothing, ours is better…and organic.)