Most people associate a trip to Kenya with a safari adventure, but last week Atha and I were hunting a different kind of beast - the ngowe mango. It's a african variety of mango that we think could taste nice in our drinks, and it would allow us to make our first purchase of fruit from smallholder farmers in Africa.
The ngowe mango tree looks like this.
We want to make sure that our trade with these farmers is more than just a sales contract - we want to work out how we can help to make a material difference to their lives, even if it is just a little bit.
We visited a number of farmers to learn all about the ngowe mango and the challenges they face to earn sufficient income. We also talked with great organisations like Technoserve, Fintrac and FARM Africa to learn how they work with these farmers to improve their productivity and help them to gain greater access to markets and finance.
A lot of the farms are in remote areas which makes it very difficult to transport the fruit to markets.
The farmers usually grow a mix of cash crops (ones which can earn them an income) like mango, papaya and banana, and then grow food crops like maize for the family to eat. If they can afford it, the farmers will also keep a goat or a cow to provide milk.
We hope to make our first purchase of mango at the end of this year, so we will keep you updated on our progress and how we will be working with these farmers.
Many thanks to everyone we met for spending time with us and teaching us so much, and to the Technoserve team for showing us around in Kenya - it's a beautiful country.
Jess and Atha