Meet Atandi: A Bold Kenyan Woman and Coffee Farmer

Atandi Wilkister is a member of Orinde Farmers’ Cooperative Society in Rachuonyo South, Kenya. She has seen her income increase from $35 to $94 since the Rachuonyo South Coffee Project began June 5, 2014. Photo by Jake Lyell for Lutheran World Relief

by Nikki Massie

Atandi Wilkister is a small-scale farmer who lives in the Rachuonyo South District in Western Kenya.

Life has been challenging for Atandi, especially because she was left alone to run her farm and raise her children many years ago. For a long time, she struggled to make a living from her land and finally decided to grow coffee to try to make things better.

Coffee is a cash crop in this region. It has the potential to earn farmers good income if they can produce high quality coffee that meets international buying standards. The problem was that Atandi and other farmers in her cooperative (called APOKO) weren’t producing sufficient amounts of good quality coffee. They also lacked good markets in which to sell their coffee.

That all changed thanks to bold women like you, who support bold women farmers like Atandi with training, equipment and support to improve their agricultural livelihoods.

With training, Atandi and nearly 6,000 other farmers have learned important agricultural methods, such as pruning their trees so that the coffee cherries don’t spoil on the tree. They’ve also learned about weeding and fertilizer use.

Through her cooperative Atandi is able to visit demonstration farms, where successful farmers share their methods so other farmers can replicate them at home. The cooperative also received important equipment to process coffee and preserve its quality.

Now Atandi is producing more coffee than ever before! Her income has more than doubled — from $34 a month to $94. In addition to coffee, Atandi also grows corn and millet. With the training she’s learned, she is able to provide for her family like never before.

“With my income, I have been able to feed and educate my children, build a house and buy livestock,” she says.

LWR Fair Trade ensures hard-working farmers get a fair price for their products, while building up their communities and using economically sustainable practices. Plus, a portion of every LWR Fair Trade purchase supports LWR’s work with small-scale farmers around the world.

This year, we’re celebrating 20 years of Lutherans making a difference through LWR Fair Trade. Celebrate with us! If your congregation already lifts up LWR Fair Trade mark the 20th anniversary with a special celebration. Check out our Fair Trade Leader Guide for ideas. If you want to start a Fair Trade ministry, now is the perfect time! Visit lwr.org/fairtrade for more information.

Nikki Massie is staff writer for Lutheran World Relief.

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Originally published at www.womenoftheelca.org on February 22, 2016.

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