By Guido Guerra, senior analyst
The coffee value chain is one of the most important agricultural activities in Uganda. Coffee exports represent a major source of foreign currency for the country (17 percent of total exports), with an estimated 500,000 rural households which depend on coffee production.
Kibinge Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Society (KCFCS) is a primary level cooperative created in 2009 which operates in Kibinge, in the Masaka subregion near Lake Victoria. KCFCS became Fairtrade certified in 2011 and a coffee exporter the next year. The cooperative collects, processes and commercialises the Robusta coffee output of its farmer members and supports them with financial services and agricultural inputs.
However, the cooperative’s members are aging and they cannot sustain their coffee production levels because of the physical limitations imposed by age. To give financial security to old members during the retirement period and support the cooperative’s growth, in 2019 with the support of Agriterra, KCFCS launched an initiative to manage its old members’ coffee farms and promote standardised farming practices aiming to keep a steady supply of quality coffee.
Under the farm management project old members delegate farm management to young farmers and share the profits obtained, all supervised and controlled by the cooperative’s youth council. To support the project inception, in 2019 Agriterra financed a youth camp to inspire young farmers into farm entrepreneurship. In addition, a Dutch Agripooler was mobilised, in collaboration with a local consultant, to develop a family-farm succession plan to be piloted with volunteer farmers acting as role models to make succession planning a common practice within the cooperative.
However, with the COVID crisis, Agriterra found its activities severely restricted due to social distancing and travel bans. Thus, in 2020 and 2021, the local business advisors decided to transfer funds to KCFCS to finance the identification and registration of more than 50 older members to join the farm management project and prepare 100 farmers on succession planning, while training 300 younger farmers on farm management practices.
As a result, by the end of 2021, Kibinge established farm management in 51 farms with a coverage of 119 Ha, which produce 48.6 Tn of coffee per year, and mapped them using GPS. The cooperative paid an average price 13 percent higher to these farmers and aims to double their productivity per coffee tree. In addition, Kibinge is extending the farm management project to vulnerable members such as widows or crippled farmers.