Since the beginning, it has been our goal to stimulate redevelopment of the coffee industry in Liberia, beginning in Nimba and Lofa Counties, with the aim of improving the welfare and opportunities of local coffee farmers (by means of fair wages, distribution assistance, and training). We believe this will also impact their local communities, the entire region, and hopefully all of Liberia, as well. We have planned to apply this same model and we expect similar results in Uganda and additional countries in the future.
The report from Liberia confirms that we are indeed meeting some of these important goals!
Our project manager and farmer liaison is Rev. John Kolee Ndorbor, Senior Pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church of Congotown, Monrovia. Pastor John told us that farmers said that the gradual return of a good market for their coffee crops is helping them in many ways. Most of them cited the return of their kids to school, improvement of their shelter condition, and empowerment to maintain their coffee farms were their primary benefits.
Pastor John also reported: “What was evident was that we had more women selling coffee to us this term than the last term. I was curious to know why this term, and many told me that with the price farmers received from CC last year, they were encouraged to harvest their crop this term; coffee had been their main source of getting money in the past, but due to unfair prices that had been offered to them since the end of the civil war, nearly all their coffee farms were abandoned until now. Many people expressed regret that they had cut down their coffee farms to make rice farms before the “good news” of CC paying a fair price for their crop hit them.”
With the purchase of the 2014 crop, approximately 500 farmers along with their families and local communities benefitted from the sale of their coffee to Compassion Corps. Here in the U.S., we used those beans to roast, package and market 4 different products:
In keeping with Compassion Corps’ promise to return again this season to Lofa to assist partner farmers by being a reliable coffee buyer, we sent the funds over and John did the traveling and buying for us in December and January in order to secure the new crop.
A note directly from Pastor John (received in early February, 2015):
“The first leg of our mission in Lofa was successful, praise God; and thanks for your prayers.
The farmers were very happy to receive me. The trip helped us maintain our farmers. I am now in the position to give you a verified testimonial about our coffee project: Our goal is being met, farmers are returning to their coffee farms. I saw a lot of farmers who delayed their rice farms just to clean and harvest their coffee, I had to even tell some of them to balance their activities in order to enable them to concentrate on their rice farms since in fact rice is their staple food.
Farmers were literally seen dancing as they got a fair price for their coffee. What amazed me was, the first batch of farmers we bought coffee from were dominated by women, and they are very excited, forming the cooperative. I am afraid that we have more coffee than we can buy! Many farmers kept calling me to buy their coffee but the amount I had was just a drop in the ocean.”
When asked if selling their coffee to Compassion Corps is making a difference in their daily lives, many farmers reported that what they are most thankful for is that they now have enough income to be able to afford to send their children to school. Others were grateful to be able to attend to their housing needs, such as in purchasing sheets of zinc for their roofing which will give them protection during Liberia’s intense tropical rainstorms. Still others, who have been suffering from malnutrition due to the Ebola crisis and resultant food shortages, are thrilled to be able to buy sufficient rice and other food staples for their families.
Hopefully, this update has helped you to better realize just what a significant impact our coffee initiative has been making for hundreds of people in Liberia. And our delicious coffee can brighten your days here in the U.S. as well! Purchase Cup of Compassion coffee as a regular, one-time cart checkout or set yourself up with a monthly, recurring (delivery to your door!) coffee membership.
Learn more about this “coffee with a cause” at www.CupofCompassionCoffee.com, and be sure to share this opportunity with friends, too. Buying coffee has never been more rewarding.