Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Karaba Update with the Coffee Bike Program

I just sat down with the Karaba president and the coffee bicycle accountant to speak about how the coffee bike program has been going the past week and a half/two weeks. They have about 60 or so bicycles running at the moment.

Both described how nearly all the farmers have abided by their contracts and are bringing in the coffee on time for the early "coffee bike" washing time (3pm). With 60 bicycles they have already seen a ton increase in this early washing time in comparison to last year. And there are other coffee farmers that have ordinary bicycles bringing their coffee before 3pm in order to show that they can obey the program in order to hopefully receive a coffee bike in the future. Also with these coffee farmers using their normal bicycles they are being more faithful to the cooperative and not selling so much to other competing private coffee companies. (There are 2 competing private washing stations that have persuaded Karaba coffee farmers to sell to them because they offer cash on the spot.)

The bikes are an absolute rave. I hear every time I go to the cooperatives about how people think that they are so great, that people that bought coffee bikes and owned the ordinary/Chinese bicycles sold their ordinary/Chinese because they saw no need to keep it around. People are amazed by the simple fact of riding up hills, or carrying people and cargo on the back of the bicycles or carrying so much coffee down the hill. On average there is 120-150 kilos of coffee being transported to the washing station at Karaba on the back of coffee bicycles.

Even though the bikes are a hit, they are however not a 100% perfect. There are many cases of flat tires, loose bottom brackets and people flipping over the bars due to not being accustomed to the super powerful brakes (we are working on this in the education given at the distribution of the bicycles).

The second set of 500 is coming out of customs tomorrow, and Monday it will start all again.

The picture is of an old farmre buying the bicycle, quite a charatcher.

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