In a study on the root causes of poverty among coffee farmers, a remarkable 47 percent of all responses are related to being able to farm productively. Distant or poorly functioning markets, price fluctuations, “exhausted land,” and drought or floods all received mention. Only 8 percent reported landlessness, and among those responses four issues stood out: women not inheriting land, men inheriting small plots of land, recent migrants not having land, and the poor selling their land. 

Throughout Tanzania, wealth is associated with the ability to eat and drink as much as one desired. Poverty is associated with skipping meals, reducing meals to one or two a day, involuntarily changing diet, sending children to neighbors' homes to eat and poor performance in school (hunger making poor children unable to pay attention). Sugar, kerosene, and cooking oil are considered luxury goods as "rare as gold" for the poor. The very poor were described as lucky to eat at all, totally dependent on the goodwill of others for food.

The majority of farming practices in coffee producing regions have become westernized, but it is very clearly not working. Such practices may have looked profitable for a season, but these westernized farming methods are not sustainable in such regions, and the land quickly becomes exhausted. 

About a week after we arrive in Tanzania, we begin our permaculture design certification course that is specific to Tanzanian agriculture. Our work with coffee farmers, and the implementation of permaculture principles, is not another attempt to westernize their farming, but rather, help them transform their exhausted small coffee farms back to the way crops naturally grow in their particular region. It is a slow work, but it is sustainable, and promises greater yields and less toil in the long run. 

The closer we get to arriving, the more we see our being able to lend a hand there as extremely important. The reality that the majority of the world, ourselves included, mindlessly and leisurely consume coffee every day, while the smallholder farmers who produced it are quite literally hardly surviving keeps us awake at night. 

Despite having our plane tickets, we will not be able to go to Tanzania without our local community here believing in us and financially supporting the work of After Trade. We have only $6,000 left to raise for our upfront moving costs. If 100 people give a one-time donation of $60 or if 60 people give a one-time donation of $100, we will meet our goal: www.gofundme.com/berbecstanzania

We have only $230/month left to raise for monthly support. If we don’t have enough to survive on ourselves, we will be useless in terms of the help we’ll be able to extend in Tanzania. If 5 people commit to give $45/month, we will meet our goal: www.aftertrade.org

We can only write about this work, and say it in so many ways. In a very real sense, we can’t do this without you all. Please consider being part of this work.

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