John has lived in Fihoni, Kwale County since 1996. He used to be a potato farmer in Nyeri County. He would drive down to the coast to find a market for his produce. This he would find in hotels and restaurants. He fell in love with the region and ultimately moved his family to Fihoni. Ever since he moved to Kwale, John has farmed mangoes and coconuts.
A year after his relocation, Kenya faced the El-Nino, the heaviest rainfall experienced in decades. Like most of the country, farmers in Kwale faced flooding as well. Many crops were destroyed leaving farmers without income for months. John remembers that though his farm was affected by the rain, his coconut trees continued to be productive. As farmers complained of income losses back home, coconut farmers continued enjoying productive periods. This was John’s aha moment. Coconuts were going to be his main income source.
John has sold coconuts to Kentaste ever since the company’s inception. He prefers Kentaste to other buyers because it buys more consistently from farmers at the coast. He likes that the price offered by Kentaste is one that has helped families be self-sufficient. John has 4 kids that he has taken through school and a fifth who just started school. He is confident that as long as Kentaste is buying from him, he will take his youngest through to university.
While he is proud of his children, his greatest pride comes from the independence that comes with being an income earner despite being a senior citizen.
John is the chair of Fihoni’s Fair Trade Committee. This committee advises Kentaste on the most impactful CSR projects to undertake in the community. It is this committee that recommended that Kentaste purchases desks for the local Fihoni Primary School. According to the teachers at Fihoni, the comfort brought by the desks has made learning more enjoyable and results are improving.