Kilimanjaro Day 7

My final day in Tanzania!  Little did I know it would be such an adventurous one, but more on that at the end.

My trusty companion Jensen picked me up from my lodge hotel in the morning and we set off towards Arusha to meet up with Adam.  Adam, however, was coming from Moshi with some fresh samples for me to take back, so Jensen and I had a couple of hours to kill before we could all meet up.  We spent our time first at the Arusha Coffee Lodge, a fancy hotel with cabins nestled between the trees, for a quick soda and rest.  Then we were off to the Tanzanian Cultural Heritage Center for a look around, but disappointingly, this was not a museum but a huge collection of tourist shops selling Tanzanian artifacts.  Alas, I had not brought along my money, so sorry, no one gets a souvenir… Finally Adam arrived in Arusha, and the three of us set off to Olturoto Pulpery, another of CCPK’s collection and processing stations.

Olturoto was the smallest of the 4 pulperies I visited, and since it is on the slopes of Mt. Meru instead of Mt. Kilimanjaro the weather is a little colder and less humid.  The factory manager, Jared, showed me around, and even though the processing mechanisms here are the same at the other CCPK pulperies, they only receive about 70 tons of cherry a year (this year it will be higher, but they still don’t know the exact number because Olturoto is still in high production right now).  Jared thinks that this is because the collection point here shares its space with the local co-op (not affiliated with CCPK) and because of this they also have to compete for cherry from delivering farmers to the pulpery (the best price always wins).  The first year that Olturoto Pulpery was open, they had 300 contributing farmers, and last year they received cherry from over 1,560 farmers. A stunning achievement for coffee quantity, but I think it would be overly complicated for quality control and farmer tracking for Direct Trade coffee.

Olturoto Pulpery has a small demonstration plot to teach classes to local farmers on pruning and fertilization techniques, and also distributes the seedlings produced at Kibo Estate.  However, Olturoto faces some significant problems to production, including limited space during the peak of harvest season, a very short (and inefficient) washing canal, and colder weather than the other pulperies.

Jensen, Adam, Jared and I then went to visit a couple of nearby farms.  Both were very well maintained, however the first man had very old trees that he refused to stump (cut down at an angle so that new branches will grow) no matter how hard the CCPK representatives pleaded.  While he knows that it would benefit his farm in the long run, he feels that he is unable to absorb the immediate loss of production that would occur if he were to stump his plants this year.  One thing that CCPK would like to do is provide small loans to farmers who cannot afford to lose a year of production from stumping to encourage the maintenance of healthy farms.  With a program like this, this farmer would be able to stump his trees and still support his family during the non-production season.

We returned to Arusha for a late lunch, and Jensen took me back to my hotel for a shower and a rest before my flight home that evening.  Just another adventure in the coffee lands!

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