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Increasing market-orientated production of Arabica coffee together

The problem

Rich, fertile land, volcanic soil and plenty of rainfall make Uganda home to quality Arabica coffee, yet the country only exports around 1% of the world’s supply. Instead, Uganda has historically focused on Robusta coffee production, leaving the Arabica coffee sector under-invested, preventing significant volumes from reaching high-value export markets.

But the demand for environmentally and socially sustainable coffee is rising, particularly for Arabica coffee in European markets. Investments in eastern Uganda have led to an increase in the volume and quality of the coffee produced, raising its profile in local and international markets. Western Uganda however, despite being home to an estimated 200,000 coffee farmers, has not received the same level of attention.

A lack of processing facilities, insufficient access to quality inputs and agricultural extension services, and a lack of skilled labour all constrain both the quality and quantity of Arabica coffee produced in western Uganda.

Many individual farmers sell their coffee at low prices to the first bidder, often pre-selling before harvest. Additionally, women and young people are often excluded from training and decision-making.

However, with the right investment in infrastructure, Uganda boasts a huge potential to increase volumes of sustainably produced and processed Arabica coffee and export around the world.

What are we doing?

This project aims to help western Uganda upgrade its coffee value chain with a focus on delivering increased volumes of sustainably produced, quality Arabica coffee to premium export markets and including smallholder farmers in the value chain.

Farm Africa is working with the Ugandan coffee processor and exporter, UGACOF, to reduce losses during production, harvest and post-harvest handling; expand marketing opportunities for smallholder farmers and help them diversify into higher value export markets.

The project will help farmers deliver a consistent supply of quality coffee cherries to UGACOF who will market the produce to European Union, and African, Caribbean and Pacific roasters.

How are we doing it?

The project is supporting 8,000 coffee farming households to:

  • Apply climate-smart agriculture practices.
  • Increase the density of trees on their land and set up nurseries to improve access to certified seedlings.
  • Adhere to the sustainability, traceability and certification standards demanded by buyers.
  • Reduce harvest and post-harvest losses.
  • Receive a price that reflects the quality of their produce that incentivises them to continue to produce high-quality coffee.

The project will invest in four washing stations and support drying and collection centre facilities, which will:

  • Ensure quality and consistency levels are maintained throughout the supply chain.
  • Transfer the risks associated with quality loss to UGACOF.
  • Bring facilities closer to coffee farming households.
  • Set up a fully integrated water treatment system to limit water wastage.
  • Redistribute waste pulp from the washing process to the farmers as organic manure.
  • Offset some of the environmental impact by planting coffee and other crops on the land not occupied by the facilities.

Three members from every coffee farming household will be registered to each washing station, who will:

  • Include at minimum one woman and one youth who are in some way involved in the household’s coffee production business.
  • Form groups that will select lead farmers who will receive training in climate-smart agriculture, financial literacy and farming as a business, which they will share with the rest of the group.

An oversight committee consisted of representatives from the districts, farmers, Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), UGACOF, Farm Africa and other stakeholders will:

  • Ensure smallholder farmers in the coffee value chain have a voice.
  • Ensure public and private actors work together to determine a fair price that reflects the quality of farmers’ produce.
  • Validate the project design, monitor its implementation, and guarantee sustainable benefits for all.

In addition, local government staff will receive training and quality input suppliers will be given the opportunity to expand their market to the region and be supported by a strong network of local agro-input dealers.

Women and young people

The project will specifically focus on providing women and young people with opportunities to engage with and benefit from the coffee value chain, including:

  • Working with households rather than individual farmers to promote coffee farming as a perennial family business and increase the role of women and young people.
  • Promoting voluntary land use agreements, which assign a certain portion of the family land to be managed by a woman or a young person.
  • Identifying and training women and young people, who have little or no land, in sustainable production methods and linking them to farms with labour needs.
  • Rolling out the gender action learning system (GALS), which helps open up dialogue between household members to better identify each gender’s challenges and opportunities.
Who are we working with?

The project is co-funded by the European Union and UGACOF, a leading coffee processor and exporter in Uganda.

This website was created and maintained with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Farm Africa and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

UGACOF and Farm Africa have drawn on their past and current experience with smallholder farmers in the Rwenzori and Kigezi sub-regions to design this project. Learn more about our previous coffee projects in Uganda here.