November 17, 2021
Daniel Kinne, HOAC Papua New Guinea: To the source
“My life depends on coffee,” says Daniel Kinne, a good friend of Kōkako and chairman of the Highlands Organic Agriculture Cooperative, a wonderful cooperative we source beans from in Papua New Guinea.
Although Daniel’s life revolves around coffee, the delicious fruits of their labour aren’t loved by the locals. Daniel tells us that people in Papua New Guinea prefer drinks such as sugarcane juice, and coffee drinking just isn’t really a practice there. But despite no caffeine dependency (unlike us!), HOAC is dependent on coffee financially. The Fairtrade premiums, which are extra money paid to farmers on top of the selling price, directly benefit the lives of coffee growing communities that supply HOAC. “We share this Fairtrade Premium around to all producing families, the hard-working farmers and their communities,” shares Daniel.
Here, we speak to Daniel about his work with HOAC, being a second generation coffee farmer, and the tangible benefits of Fairtrade.
Can you tell us about your day-to-day working for HOAC?
I live in Goroka town and control all the operations for HOAC coffee on a daily basis, to make sure that we have enough supplies of coffee to meet the export demands. We offer much higher prices than the other buyers in town because of Fairtrade, meaning all the local farmers are happy. If the government cannot help us, we go our own way to help ourselves. Our people are working hard to produce more coffee because everyone in our communities is benefitting well through the premium money, the premium money is doing wonders in the communities.
When did you start coffee farming?
I’m a second-generation coffee farmer, in fact. My father went to work in a coffee plantation with white people during colonial days, then from there he developed his interest in coffee farming. He left town, came back home and planted 100 hectares of coffee. The old man passed on and now it's on me to lead the way through coffee farming. Me and my family have benefited a lot from coffee ever since.
What would you say are some amazing things that you’ve got directly from the Fairtrade premiums companies such as us at Kōkako pay?
First of all, the classroom projects for elementary students. We made sure that communities must at least have an elementary classroom for each community. Secondly, the water supply project [which saw HOAC build a gravity-fed water supply system]. We’re also very mindful of coffee quality, so right now we’re looking towards getting pulpers for all. We’re also paying for roofing iron so each farmer can build their houses.
Obviously, here in New Zealand coffee is so common, but many people mightn’t give a second of thought to the farmers that grew the beans. What do you wish people in New Zealand or in places that drink coffee knew about how it's made, where it comes from and the people who are producing it?
Mike Murphy from Kōkako always talks about province, which is very important because in that way you are connecting the consumer with the producer, so as they drink that cup of coffee they will know exactly where that coffee is coming from, whether it's coming from Latin America, Belgium, Africa, Vietnam or PNG. The connection is there and it's very important and that’s one thing I admire about Kōkako, you promote tracing the coffee to where it came from, adding connection to the people.
During your visits to Aotearoa, what have you really enjoyed?
I’m impressed with how people enjoy coffee. During my visits to parts of the country with Fairtrade, I got to meet up personally with some consumers and buyers of my coffee, it was just amazing! It means so much to me, it really is a big thing to me. Not only that, but everyone in New Zealand wants to become a part of Fairtrade. Similarly in Australia; for example, I was touched by the mayor in Melbourne, who said ‘let’s make this city a Fairtrade city’. Even children from high schools want to do something and don’t want to be a contributing factor to poverty. That’s really touching to me.
In Papua New Guinea, have you witnessed a lot of poverty?
The good thing is, the land is owned by the people, not the government. The government owns only 15% and 85% is owned by the people, so we produce our food on our own land. Otherwise, if the land was totally owned by the government, we would really suffer. We have the land; we cultivate and produce our own food to support us.
Looking back on your career, what was a stand-out moment for you?
I’m a very committed, hardworking man in the HOAC organisation in my village. Through this hard work, I get to travel overseas to places like Europe, Australia and New Zealand. No one could have made it possible for me to travel overseas, but because of coffee, I get to see those places. When I travel back to PNG to my home village, I get to tell my people about my visits. They are so inspired and feel connected to the buyers and consumers. That’s the highlight of my life.
Our Aotea blend uses delicious beans from HOAC in Papua New Guinea. You can try it here.
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