Arabica coffee farmers in western Uganda lose an estimated US $16 million a year because their high-grown coffee is not washed, and miss out on a further US $16 million a year as their coffee is not certified or effectively marketed. Building on previous work, we set out to address these issues with the 6,000 coffee farmers in western Uganda in partnership with Rabobank.
We worked with four of our producer partners in western Uganda to improve coffee quality using micro-washing stations built with investments from farmers supported by Rabobank loans. Farmers formed groups to construct and operate the micro-stations and received training on processing and internal control systems for coffee traceability. At the end of the three-year project, 64 micro- and mini-stations were constructed with the capacity to process 1,000 tonnes of green coffee. As a result, the cooperatives have improved their cupping scores, some achieving up to 90 (82 is considered speciality grade) adding significant value to the crop.
Business basics and trading
In addition to facilitating access to loans, Twin provided technical assistance at some participating cooperatives funded by Rabobank to build up the business skills needed for trading on international markets. This included training on financial analysis, developing business plans, management coaching, and Price Risk Management training. To complement this, Twin supported the cooperatives in accessing working capital and contract negotiation.
Marketing Quality coffee
Once the right quality was achieved, Twin provided marketing support through the Joint Marketing Initiative (JMI), trading to buyers in the UK and USA. We also accompanied cooperatives to trade fair to meet buyers, including the African Fine Coffee Association (AFCA) and facilitated buyer trips with speciality coffee buyers. As a result, the farmers around the Rwenzori Mountains are already beginning to establish themselves in the US specialty market, attracting some well-known mainstream buyers and quality premiums.
Reach: members of Ankole Coffee Producers Co-operative Union Ltd (ACPCU), Bukonzo Joint Co-operative Union Ltd (BJCU), Bukonzo Organic Farmers Co-operative Union Ltd (BOCU), and Semliki Co-operative Society Ltd (SCS) in Uganda.