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Roots Coffee Connect

Reduce poverty and expand employment opportunities along coffee value chain for small holder farmers in post war Rwenzori region - Uganda.

Photo of Tumwebaze Khamutima
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Reduce poverty levels and expand employment opportunities for small holder coffee farmers in post war Rwenzori region of Uganda through enhancing their engagement along the coffee value chain for increased productivity, sustainable livelihoods, customer satisfaction and societal transformation. Ever since Uganda got its independence in 1962, the region has witnessed a number of wars in form of guerilla warfare including the Rwenzururu Movements, National Resistance Army, National Army for Liberation of Uganda and Allied Democratic Forces all of which have affected its social, economic and political development. We believe that empowering Rwenzori coffee farmers along coffee value chain is the path way towards creating jobs and reducing poverty levels in the region because with bad agronomic practices and poor post harvest handling, Rwenzori region is able to produce over 13,426 metric tons earning them USD 18,700,000 but unfortunately most of it goes to middlemen leaving farmers with just 5% of the money yet if they are supported to do away with middlemen, replace the old coffee trees that have lived for over 40 years with new and high quality ones, they will be able to boost the coffee industry and enable farmers to earn high profits. Through our unique “Pioneer Farmer Model” where farmers are mobilized into coffee production and savings associations, appoint their leader (Pioneer Farmer) who is trained on good agronomic practices, record keeping, financial literacy and value addition and all this allows small holder farmers to generate strong direct relationships, co-ownership and negotiation power, bypass the middlemen and sell directly to our owned or authorized partner collection centers in the region. This has enabled farmers to increase coffee yields, quality, create direct and indirect jobs and ensure climate smart practices hence improved livelihoods among the small holder coffee farmers and the community at large.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are coffee farmers in post war Rwenzori region of Uganda in the districts of Kabarole, Kasese, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa and Kamwenge. Through our “Pioneer Farmer” model, we organize coffee farmers into associations of 40 people, elect the leader (Pioneer Farmer) who works directly with Roots Coffee Connect. Help the associations develop a shared vision, a simple vision-based business plan and a strategic plan, train them in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), group dynamics, post harvest handling financial literacy and record keeping to ensure coffee is traceable throughout the supply chain. Register youth coffee farmer associations with Roots Coffee Connect, facilitate access to financial services, farm inputs and low cost tools for post harvest handling like hullers and dryers, train youth in coffee value addition like, hulling, grading, roasting, grinding, blending, packaging and brewing and link coffee farmers to better and reliable markets.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Unlike competitors who provide little or no price information or technical assistance within the supply chain and pay farmers only 5% of the money from coffee, with our project, the farmers will not lose ownership of coffee at farm gate. Our project is unique because it creates 100% traceable coffee sourcing supply channels for both commercial and premium quality coffees, whilst creating economic and social value addition to the network of smallholder coffee producers in our supply chain. Through our “Pioneer Farmer Model”, youth coffee farmers take responsibility to assume some direct and indirect roles in the coffee value chain thus increasing their shared value equitably with processors and buyers before the coffee ceases to belong to them hence a win for all farmers, processors, buyers and consumers. This idea is designed to solve the primary problems identified in the traditional Rwenzori coffee supply chain and to introduce a shorter, traceable and informed supply chain.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Roots Coffee Connect works to reduce poverty levels and expand employment opportunities for small holder coffee farmers in post war Rwenzori region of Uganda through mobilizing them into production and savings associations, offer trainings on good agronomic practices, record keeping and financial literacy and all of which allows them to generate strong direct relationships, co-ownership and negotiation power, bypass middlemen hence increase coffee yields, quality, create jobs and improve lives.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Growing up in a coffee farming household, we struggled to take care of family bills due to little pay yet Uganda was the second leading exporter of coffee in Africa and this was due to middlemen who determined coffee prices. After my studies, i was determined to sensitize our coffee farmers by organizing them into coffee associations so that they can avoid middlemen, own their coffee, negotiate for better prices and sell directly to buyers hence the formation of Roots Coffee Connect.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

1. Peace. Ever since Uganda got its independence in 1962, the Rwenzori region has witnessed a number of civil wars and rebel groups including the Rwenzururu Movements, National Resistance Army, National Army for the Liberation of Uganda and Allied Democratic Forces all of which destabilized peace and currently still poses a threat in the region. 2. Prosperity. The impact of these rebellions on civilians were devastating as they led to internal massive displacement where over 105,000 people were displaced in Bundibugyo and 18,000 in Kasese between 2000 and 2002. Many people were killed and villages set a blaze. Indiscriminate acts of violence were perpetrated against the communities especially women and the region still struggles to recover from the times of chaos and uplifting their lives. 3. Planet. With bad agronomic practices, there is low productivity and the region has for long suffered from nutrition and hunger Challenges.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

We will work with different stakeholders to help us push forward the objectives of this project as follows; 1. Farmers Associations like Uganda National Farmers Federation, National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE) to help us reach out and empower a network of potential coffee farmers to be engaged in our project. 2. Government agencies and programs like directorate of extension, operation wealth creation, Uganda Coffee development authority (UCDA) to help us mobilize farmers and engage them into our programs like operating coffee nursery beds. 3. Financial institutions and insurance companies to provide finance and coffee security for farmers to thrive. 4. Private sector companies like SUCAFINA/UGACOF, Kyagalanyi Coffee to help us provide ready market for the coffee farmers. 5. Donor agencies to help us finance and build capacity of coffee farmers.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Rwenzori Mountains. This medium roast coffee has a full bodied taste with citrus and floral undertones, making it a great 'all day' coffee. The snow-capped Rwenzori mountains are surrounded by lakes and glaciers and their crystal pure waters irrigate the areas that produce one of the finest Arabica coffees in the world and the fertile soils of the mountains provide great conditions for growing really great coffee.

Geographic Focus

Rwenzori Region, Uganda

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

2 years and 6 months

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jaci Braga

This project looks fantastic and I love the idea of building relationships and training farmers and leaders that can cut out the middle man! I just hope that you are also taking into consideration the most ecologically sound methods of growing as well. For example, not using harmful pesticides and not cutting down entire forests to plant only one mono crop of coffee. Shade grown, chemical free coffee that will allow biodiversity to flourish and that will not harm bees, wildlife or the natural resources including the soil, water and air will be particularly important to promote peace, prosperity and the planet as part of the project as well!

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