Hi all! The rainy season has officially begun in Kigoma! Around 11 this morning a thunderstorm came through the area, with piercingly loud thunder and heavy sheets of rain. Where a dry creek-bed had been this morning, around noon a muddy river rushed through town. The start of the rains means that it’s especially crucial that the exporting team moves fast to get the coffee down from Matyazo to Dar es Salaam port, since the roads will become muddy messes, coffee quagmires that can sink any truck intrepid enough to try to get through (Not to be dramatic).

We have a new person training at the SH at Origin Kigoma office – a Kanyovu intern named Benedicto. Benedicto Joseph is 24 years old and was born in Mwanza, which is one of the largest cities in Tanzania, in the northern part of the country near Lake Victoria. When Benedicto was a year old, his parents purchased a plot of land adjacent to his grandparents in Mubanga, and he spent his childhood on the farm there. His father left Mubanga five years later to find work in a city, and since then Benedicto and his two younger sisters have been helping his mother run the coffee farm, which has about 200 trees.  

If you have been working with Kanyovu coffee over the past months, you probably recognize the name “Mubanga.” Its residents are part of the Mubanga Primary Society, which is a sub-cooperative of Kanyovu. Mubanga is far from the main Burundi-Kigoma road, and there is no public transport. The only way people can sell their bananas – the village’s second major cash crop – is to walk up the steep hill about five miles to the main junction, where trucks stop to buy in bulk. Mubanga is a small primary society and a close-knit community. Benedicto has known Dickson, Mubanga’s chairman, his whole life, and it was Dickson SUSTAINABLE HARVESTwho told Benedicto of the internship opportunity that Kanyovu offered.Dickson recommended Benedicto because not only is he part of Mubanga’s coffee community, he is one of the lucky few children who was able to continue his education beyond primary school.

Until age 12, Benedicto attended Mubanga Primary School (the building that catches rain on its roof for the SH-installed rain harvesting system). He then was able to attend a boarding school 12 miles away from Mubanga. That might seem like a close distance, but because there is absolutely no public transport (besides “bike-buses,” Benedicto mentioned with a smile, when you pay someone to carry you on the back of their bicycle), Benedicto had to live at the school. Tanzania uses the British educational system, so after 4 years of O-Levels at Mnanila, Benedicto traveled to Mwanza to complete his A-levels (If you know the Hogwarts educational system, you might have some reference for how it works). Because secondary education is not free, most people do not complete O-levels, and very few make it to A-levels. Benedicto had enough support to complete his secondary education, and specialized in Physics, Chemistry, and Math.  

Mwanza is a center of the cotton industry, and Benedicto’s first job was in a factory that bought cotton from small-holders and exported it to a company in Switzerland. From that experience, Benedicto became interested in business accounting and marketing and thought the Kanyovu position was perfect for him. He had been back in Mubanga for a few months, working as a part-time math teacher at a secondary school when he heard from Dickson.  The coffee industry is familiar to Benedicto since he grew up in it. But this past month in the Sustainable Harvest office, he has seen how much room there is for professional growth – the production side of the supply chain needs engineers, accountants, and “marketers,” not only farmers. Working with Kanyovu, he is able to stay close to his roots, help his community prosper, and also build skills and create a career.  


Genevieve Edens

Sustainable Harvest at Origin 

NOTE: Sustainable Harvest at Origin does the hard work in Tanzania that makes our Kanyovou Coffee possible.