meet the farmers
Mitakawani is a small town situated right in the middle of Unguja, the southernmost main island of the Zanzibar Archipelago.
The area here is more hot and dry compared to Kidichi, with red orange soil.
The canopy here is more open and trees are more dispersed, although it all still feels very lush.
Most of the houses in the village are still made out of the traditional wooden sticks, mud and straw.
Plenty of cows, goats and chickens roam in between the trees, looking around for a tasty green leaf or juicy twig.
People are poor but share everything. Everyone in this village works together to cultivate spices and all the profits are shared between villagers as well. The village elder Ali Juma Omari oversees everything and makes sure everyone gets their fair share.
Here people don’t have, or have very limited access to electricity, and due to the relative fragility of the island ecosystem, wood is very precious, thus farmers dry all of their spices as they have done for centuries in the African sun. This might cause some of the spices to look different from what we are used to, as most spices we consume are mechanically dried, sorted and processed. Here, things are more simple, a bit more rustic and they have a lot more character.
The whole village is very excited to know their spices will be exported to the UK and are determined to do their best to scale up production and improve quality wherever it is possible. They are eager to learn and to produce the best quality products they can. They are extremely proud of their village and of their produce. This village truly lives and breathes spices.
Currently, all the spices (e.g. our ginger) are ground to a fine powder by hand pounding them with a big wooden pestle and mortar after which it is carefully sieved. This is truly backbreaking work and with the proceeds of our profits we hope to supply them with a mechanical grinder, saving them lots of time.