Anodyne Coffee Throws African Producers a Lifeline

Milwaukee’s Anodyne Coffee supports nonprofit information outreach to developing countries, Radio Lifeline


Though it would seem just about everyone has access to global information these days, many coffee producers in East Africa still largely live off the grid, and not by choice. Anodyne Coffee Roasters ”the Milwaukee, Wis. roaster with three cafes, is helping to elevate that problem by committing financial support to Radio Lifeline, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit that provides smallholder farms with access to information and sustainable tools that can lead to improved lives and livelihoods in some of the most challenged coffee-growing regions in the world.

Specifically, Radio Lifeline has helps farmers address challenges through its Coffee Lifeline and Black Earth Projects.

The Coffee Lifeline project is a radio communications project that connects stakeholders across geographic, political and economic borders, providing a platform for the exchange of vital information that can help to increase crop yields, improve a family’s health and lead to more resilient producer communities.

Anodyne Coffee Throws African Producers a Lifeline
Since 2005, Coffee Lifeline has broadcast over 500 radio programs to the coffee producing communities in East Africa. These weekly broadcasts contain information that includes agronomic best practices, cooperative development and sustainability, climate change, early childhood and maternal health, HIV/AIDS education, nutrition, food security, economic diversification, financial literacy as well as a series of children’s stories featured at the close of each broadcast.

The Black Earth Project is a research project designed to evaluate the effectiveness of biochar when used as a soil amendment by smallholder coffee farmers in Rwanda. Biochar is produced through a process called pyrolysis, or the burning of dried biomass in a low or zero oxygen environment. The process prevents combustion and the usual release of carbon dioxide, black carbon and other greenhouse gases associated with traditional charcoal production methods.

Anodyne Coffee Throws African Producers a Lifeline
The Black Earth project presents a farm-centered approach to biochar production by utilizing various forms of agricultural crop residues, including dried corn stalks, grasses, rice hulls and coffee pulp as well as cow manure and wood chips.

“Anodyne is proud to assist [Radio Lifeline executive director] Peter [Kettler] and his Coffee Lifeline and Black Earth Projects to make real and positive changes in the lives of coffee farmers in Africa,” says Anodyne founder Matt McClutchy. “Everyone here at Anodyne looks forward to many years of playing a part in the success of the Coffee Lifeline and the Black Earth Project.

Anodyne Coffee Throws African Producers a Lifeline
Radio Lifeline’s approach in each of their projects is based on collaboration, partnering with existing NGO’s, local agronomists, universities, industry stakeholders and government agencies to increase the impact of their various outreach and education efforts via self-powered radio technology and weekly farmer-focused broadcasts.

Harvest data collected in July 2015 from coffee trees treated with applications of biochar demonstrated an average 35% increase in yield, with some cooperatives experiencing as much as a 70% increase. Input costs of biochar-treated trees were reduced by an average of 50%.

œWhen used as a soil amendment, biochar can increase crop yields, reduce nutrient leaching, help retain moisture, reduce soil acidity and improve surrounding water quality while significantly reducing the need for additional irrigation and fertilizer inputs,” says Peter Kettler, Radio Lifeline’s executive director. Biochar has increasingly been cited as an effective approach to carbon sequestration as it can remain stable in the soil for thousands of years ,

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