In Swahili language, Ndaroini is a place where people can rest overnight. This name applied to the Ndaroini smallholders that traveled long distances to deliver their cherries to the neighboring washing station Gichathaini. After a day’s work, they returned to the colonial camps – just a stone’s throw from today’s Ndaroini factory.
By the year 1981, the farmers were very frustrated with traveling very long distances to deliver their cherries to the neighboring washing station. They proposed to build a new washing station that was closer to home. The farmers and members of Gichathaini were opposed to the construction of a new station and hindered them in all possible ways.
However, through the leadership of their chairmen – the late Geoffrey Mugetha and Muthoni Maathai – and the persistent spirit of the Ndaroini people, the government allocated a community land measuring 2.5 acres and granted them the right to build a new station. Ndaroini washing station started production in 1984.
The people of Ndaroini have always had a knack for innovation. In 2018, during several field trips, Menno Simons (founder of Trabocca) started to investigate why coffee quality and volumes from Kenya seemed to disappoint year after year. He encountered the people of Ndaroini that clearly expressed their frustration with the current system. They were eager to change their course when Menno revealed Trabocca’s intentions of setting up a new supply chain.
Together with Ndaroini Coffee Ltd. we started a new movement that seeks to award the hardest working people in the industry: the smallholders. Instead of paying 55 to 82 Kenyan shilling per kilo cherries – as reported by the Daily Nation as an industry standard, we pay Ksh 100 per kg cherries and an additional 21 to the factory for quality improvements.
The payment has been made in February 2019, giving smallholders the opportunity to invest in their plots before the harvest starts again in October. Ruth Njeri Mitham, one of the members of Ndaroini, explains how higher prices per kg of cherries and on time payments impact her life.