You've probably heard of Jane Goodall, but you might not have heard of the place where she conducted her famous research, Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. While the park is best known for Goodall and her chimpanzees, the surrounding region of Kigoma, Tanzania, and the Kanyovu cooperative might soon be known for its coffee -- and its role in securing a future for the park's wildlife.
A recent initiative lead by Sustainable Harvest, a coffee importer based in Portland, Oregon, may help the park increase wildlife diversity and provide a successful crop for local farmers. Last week, I spoke with Genevieve Edens, one of Sustainable Harvest's Tanzania office members, about the company's progress as the program winds down its second year.
View Larger Map
One of the eventual goals of Sustainable Harvest's work is to create wildlife "highways" between Tanzania's protected areas, all while using coffee as the foundation. When managed efficiently, the canopy can also provide farmers with lumber, firewood and mulch. Sustainable wildlife "highways" could help both Gombe and the people of Kigoma, but the business know-how has to be there first. And that's where Sustainable Harvest's development expertise comes into play.
Edens admits that Tanzania is not as well known for coffee as its East African neighbors. Ethiopia and Kenya have long been household names for coffee, and even Rwanda has recently come into its own as a specialty coffee producer. Uganda is also taking steps to a larger coffee economy, as I wrote in March.
Thanks to a grant from the Lemelson Foundation, Sustainable Harvest has enough money to run a three-year development program for the 4,000-member Kanyovu cooperative in Kigoma, Tanzania.
Edens says that when Sustainable Harvest first arrived in Kigoma, a lack of general knowledge about coffee cultivation and processing and a lack of management skills were the greatest hurdles facing the farmers. Since then, Sustainable Harvest has addressed its work in Kigoma on three levels: land stewardship, technology and long-term market relationships.
Since Sustainable Harvest arrived in Kigoma, the cooperative has received some of the highest prices paid for Tanzanian coffee, and the highest ever for the cooperative: $1.96 per pound.
Next Week: How Sustainable Harvest is helping to turn the Kanyovu cooperative into a national model for coffee cooperatives in Tanzania.