Reprieve for coffee and tea farmers over foreign markets

Coffee and tea farmers have a reason to smile after certification to access international markets was extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Rainforest Alliance, one of the two certifying bodies on sustainable production, said the pandemic had hampered their operations and made it impossible to conduct on-site audits on farms and factories.

The organisation offers a stamp of quality to assure consumers abroad that products have been sourced sustainably.

It conducts audits on best labour practices, packaging and use of harmful pesticides.

“Due to public health risks related to Covid-19, cases are arising in some localities where it is not possible to follow the planned schedule of audits in the annual audit cycle. For this reason, a specific policy has been developed to govern exceptions arising from disruptions to audit activities due to coronavirus or public health measures imposed by the authorities in the country of operation,” said a statement from The Rainforest Alliance.

Farmers lauded the extension, saying it would save them from strict marketing bureaucracy as the world struggles to bring Covid-19 pandemic under control.

Humphrey Chiuri, a field services coordinator at Mataara Tea Factory in Kiambu County, said extension of certification would help farmers access markets without many restrictions.

“Rainforest Alliance has offered us a community-centered approach to sustainable economic development, focusing on building local leadership capacity, income diversification, and market linkages between sustainable producers and companies,” he said.

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