This month we’re taking a quick glance at the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and their relationship with coffee. The SDGs offer a roadmap for sustainable development and prosperity on our planet and guidelines for sustainability and prosperity in coffee growing regions. Almost all of the 17 goals have a connection with coffee and Moyee’s FairChain approach.
Last summer we visited the beautiful Mount Elgon in Uganda so we thought we’d check the goals in relation to Mount Elgon.
Mount Elgon is a stunning and massive volcano straddling the eastern Ugandan - Kenyan border. It rises 3,000 metres above the surrounding plains and is over 80 kilometres wide in diameter. The mountain is famous for its waterfalls, its vast national park and it’s delicious high altitude Arabica beans. It’s also home to thousands of small holder coffee farmers and their families.
However poor coffee prices are keeping many of these families in poverty.
SDG 1: No Poverty I SDG 2: Zero Hunger I SDG 3: Good Health & Wellbeing I SDG 4: Quality EducationI SDG 8: Decent Work I SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
On Mount Elgon coffee farmers struggle to provide these basic needs for their families and keep their children in school as market prices remain poor. Moyee’s approach to a living income for farmers offers a real alternative to the stingy multinationals who pay meagre shillings for these farmers world class beans. Collective efforts to improve yields and quality and capture more value at origin (roasting for the local market) can radically improve things and help advance these goals on Mount Elgon. Intercropping and beekeeping are also helping advance these goals.
SDG 5: Gender Equality
In coffee, women do 70% of the labour but own only 20% of land or households. On Mount Elgon we met numerous female farmers and female coffee entrepreneurs seeking to advance women’s rights, power and income in coffee. Like Jennifer and Emily, the ladies behind our recent best-selling microlot, Mountain Mama Coffee, and we even met a coffee start up that only buys coffee from women to tip the balance of power in homes. More of this around Mount Elgon will advance this goal!
SDG 6: Clean Water I SDG 7: Clean Energy I SDG 13: Climate Action I SDG 15: Life on Land
Since the late 1990’s Mount Elgon has lost 20% of its trees with no forest cover remaining below 2,000 metres. Poor coffee prices contribute to this but so to does the use of chemicals in farming and chopping down trees for charcoal, firewood and energy. Population pressure and large family sizes don’t help but intensive and bad farming practices, in particular where farmers stretch their fields right up the edges and banks of the fast flowing mountain streams are causing rapid soil erosion and many of the mountain’s rivers are brown in colour not clear as the top soil wash’s away.
Deforestation, soil erosion, floods and landslides on the mountain are now serious problems that must be tackled and all players (including Moyee) must get involved to help the local communities preserve their beautiful mountain. A week after our visit last summer, heavy rains on the mountain caused floods in the town of Mbale killed 29 people.
We all love coffee but we must show love to the mountains and habitats where our beans grow and to the communities who farm for us by ensuring the business of coffee is fair and future focused.