The sustainability of coffee cultivation in Tanzania
A personal contribution to economic development
One of Rabobank Ijmond’s clients mentioned to their personal financial advisor, Renny van Dijk, that they wanted to contribute to improving the lives of others less fortunate then themselves. She then contacted the Rabo Foundation Client Fund: “ The personal story behind wealth is one of the interesting things about my profession. Finding out what my clients want to do, in addition of investing, is a challenge in face-to-face meetings. This family already knew what they were looking for: a project in Tanzania that would enhance a local community’s economic development.” Besides their financial contribution, the client also wanted to be personally involved in a practical way . Rabo Foundation Client Fund started to look for a suitable project and soon came up with the Mrere coffee cooperative.
Through its Progreso partnership programme , Rabobank Foundation is now supporting this cooperative of small-scale coffee farmers in a poor region of in Tanzania. Coffee yields are rather low due to by outdated farming methods and lack of technical expertise. Progreso’s intervention is helping Mrere to make the farmers’ coffee production more efficient and sustainable over the next three years. Farmers will be able to increase their incomes as a result of the improvements in production, quality and sustainability. Growing certified organic coffee production generates a premium in addition to the regular price they receive. Progreso is also supporting the cooperative by finding new international clients to increase their market. The cooperative’s expansion has resulted in the need for organizational developments too. Progreso is training management and staff on how they can run a larger and more complex business and earn better prices for their coffee. They also gain insight into how the international coffee market functions.
The client explains why this project was selected: "We were bowled over by Renny’s enthusiasm. The nice thing about Rabo Foundation Client Fund is that you can see the impact your donation has. Not only the project’s small scale and its meaningful nature appealed to us, but also the country. I’ve always had a positive association with Tanzania, as a result of my voluntary work there in the past and that has been the most important reason for us to take this step. It even inspired me to search for my Swahili textbook. Small chance that I’ll visit the project, however I’d like to learn more about it. With this project we hope to help the Tanzanian people to move forward in the right direction. It’s meaningful to offer people a perspective in their own community."
Alexander Meyer, the Rabo Foundation Client Fund’s manager, emphasizes the importance of the project: "People in poor areas often get caught in a vicious circle. They need money on a daily basis and this results in short-term planning. We help farmers to develop a longer term perspective. By making their coffee more sustainable, which allows them to export it, they generate a higher income. We think this is the way to greater self-sufficiency."