In Togo, coffee and cocoa farmers face two mutually reinforcing crises: declining yields and climate change. Not only this, but these farmers also operate in a context with little to no support. To help address these urgent issues, the Midjo project was launched in 2022 by ETG | Beyond Beans with the support of Strauss Coffee and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).
Midjo supports 1,500 cocoa and coffee farmers in Togo, aiming to improve their livelihoods, prevent child labour through addressing some underlying drivers of poverty, empower women in coffee production and increase income diversification.
One of the participants in Midjo is Appari Morenu, a49-year-old coffee farmer in Kuma Apoti, Togo. In addition to being the mother of four children, Morenu is also the president of the supervisory committee of Wowonyo Cooperative, which supports and supervises the Cooperative in the structuring, organisation and management of funds. She also owns two coffee plantations measuring 0.75 hectares and a general trading store.
“In order to balance my family life with life in the field, I schedule my different responsibilities. If I have an activity in the field, I am up early to clean and make food to take with me.”
Overcoming Financial Barriers
Morenu’s biggest challenges as a producer are financial. Sometimes her husband has to step in to help her to pay for the labourers she employs, or she has to take out a bank loan to cover costs. Morenu’s desire is to rejuvenate her coffee trees so she can increase her production. Midjo is supporting Morenu with individual coaching to help her achieve higher yields through more sustainable agricultural practices, as well as coffee and shade tree seedlings to help set up a coffee agroforestry system. Planting timber or fruit trees between the coffee plants provides shade, enriches the soil, and provides an additional source of income at the time of harvesting. By increasing her production and diversifying her income sources, Morenu hopes to become more financially stable and independent.
Income Diversification Opportunities
Morenu is also the president of a women’s group, which, amongst other things, transforms coffee shells (the husk of the coffee cherry) into soap and turns cocoa into oil and Louga, a local sweet caramel made with roasted and crushed cocoa and sugar. ETG | Beyond Beans will create more women’s savings groups (VSLAs) under the Midjo project, and Morenu’s women’s group will serve as champions to demonstrate techniques for launching successful businesses to new VSLA groups.