Wednesday, March 22, 2006

how to build a well

long-time readers know i talk a lot about coffee farmers here. there are many schemes aimed at helping coffee farmers, who suffer in many ways from the so-called coffee crisis, as well as from living in the 3rd world generally.

i've often discussed those plans, like coffeekids or fair trade. but today i'd like to talk about an individual effort, that of long-time bccy pal and pro scaa member, oren.

devoted readers will recall that oren has been extensively involved in ethiopia recently, with his famed finchwa coffee. a few weeks ago, oren went back to visit those farmers and others.

one of the things oren saw was that fresh, clean, and safe water was hard to come by for the people at finchwa. but unfortunately, he couldn't find a water project nearby to help them.

oren did find a water project however in southern sidamo, in the dale woreda area (woreda is word with a meaning close to what we would call a "county" or "district"). the village is called salakabado.

these areas are so remote that you will have to google hard to find a map. but we'll note that the dale woreda is a place with lots of problems: flooding last year, charges of human rights abuses, homelessness, conflict.

there oren partnered with the irc to drill a well and install pumps. oren's well is now functioning -- thus offering safe, pure water to 4,000 people.

before, the residents had to walk 5 kilometers(!) for good drinking water.

while oren was there, he also drew up a new contract with the farmers who are supplying his coffee. are you ready for this?

oren offered to meet the co-op's asking price -- now this is amazing -- plus an extra 20% bonus for the farmers! oren is paying waaay over any fair-trade price.

further, he has crafted the contract with such transparency that he himself can check to make sure the farmers are paid the full amount due them, and promptly. this is what a socially-aware coffee business looks like, my friends.

there's a future for the specialty coffee business, and oren is paving the way with a new model. i have never, ever heard of a roaster/retailer of oren's size becoming so committed to partnering with farmers in this way.

this new contract is for another sidamo coffee, the garbeicho lela. this coffee should arrive in the green to oren in a few months' time. . .so unfortunately we coffee lovers will have to settle in a wait.

but it's the overall level of engagement with the farmer that i want to note here. i hope other scaa-member roasters will follow oren's example.

this is just one reason -- besides the fact of course that oren's coffee is fantastic -- that i'm so happy to be able to know oren and to recommend his excellent beans.

posted by fortune | 7:29 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 10 comments

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