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Machare Estate Raises the Bar on Sustainability

Posted by Wynne McAuley on July 23, 2012 at 10:50 AM

In 2010, the owners of Machare Estates came to Let's Talk Coffee®/Africa with hopes of connecting in a new buyer relationship.  Christy Thorns, green coffee buyer of Allegro Coffee became interested in the quality of the estate, and has become the principle purchaser of the coffee for the past two years.  This beautiful coffee farm is located at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, near the Kilimanjaro forest conservation area in Northern Tanzania. This geographical location provides an ideal microclimate for coffee production.

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Machare is the first Rainforest Alliance Certified estate in Africa, and is committed to upholding sustainability in all its practices.  In addition to valuing sustainability on their farm, Machare Estate also runs a number of projects in the surrounding communities. These projects include tree planting, providing eco-friendly stoves, coffee quality improvement, and water management.

MachareSustainable Harvest® has been working with Machare since 2010 and has worked closely with the farmers to adopt a method of composting using Effective Micro-organisms, or EMs to produce fertilizer for the estate. EMs are a preferable approach because they help to speed up the natural composting process and helps minimize the negative side effects such as waste odors and pests. As part our peer to peer program, the SH staff brought in Andre Almeida, an agronomy engineer from Brazil, to provide training to the estate farmers. Andre’s family has been cultivating coffee for generations at their famous Santa Terezhina farm in Southern Brazil. His expertise and likability provided a strong platform for engaging the Tanzanian farmers.

Andre trained the Machare staff on the EM process, and a few months later Machare took over the technology and began independently producing large quantities of organic fertilizer. Despite the scarcity of manure, which is one of the main ingredients in this organic fertilizer, they were able to produce enough fertilizer to feed their eight hectares of coffee, which enabled them to transition from conventional to organic.  In September 2011, the eight hectare block received organic certification.

Staff from Sustainable Harvest’s® origin office in Tanzania visited the farm a few weeks ago and met with Bente Medoch, owner of the estate. “Even if I am not organic certified everywhere, I am going more and more toward that direction.” said Bente about the transition.

This year, rainfall delayed flowering at Machare Estates resulting in a later than normal start to the harvest.  However farmers are now busy picking fly crop fruit and it's estimated the harvest will be larger than last year.  Bente expects the season to pick up in September and the cupping of green coffee samples will begin.

Topics: Coffee, Machare, Rainforest Alliance, Sustainability, Tanzania, Water Management