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Kibinge, coffee, Uganda (producer)

Kibinge Coffee Farmers’ Co-operative Society Limited is named after the region in which it is located in Central Uganda, about 150 kilometres from the capital, Kampala. 

The region is renowned for its high-quality Robusta coffee. Founded by four coffee farmers in 1995, Kibinge was registered as a coffee farmers’ co-operative in 2009. Two years later, they obtained Fairtrade certification and in September 2012, Shared Interest supported Kibinge in pre-financing 13 contracts with international Fairtrade buyers. 

Kibinge General Manager David Lukwata said: “Shared Interest believed in us. We were able to export our first container using Shared Interest funding. We appreciate Shared Interest for believing in us when no one wanted to assist us.”

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As their profit increased, the co-operative purchased land to set up an office space and a processing facility as well as a truck to transport coffee to the processing plant. 

Unfortunately, fluctuating coffee prices meant that producers continued to struggle to predict their income for the coming season and plan for the needs of their farms. To reduce their vulnerability, in 2018, Kibinge diversified into coffee roasting as an additional source of income, which they refer to as ‘value addition.’

David continued: “We ventured into value addition as a means of ensuring that we were everywhere in the entire coffee value chain, from what you would call seed stage to cup stage. Ugandans do not drink coffee so finding a market for coffee was not very easy. 

“We trained and keep on training by way of promoting domestic consumption of coffee. And that is how we started, slowly by selling the coffee to locals. Gradually, we evolved and started selling everywhere in Uganda.” Their efforts were recognised this year when they won a Fairtrade Africa Impact Recognition (FAIR) Ngoma Award for Best Value Addition to Products.

Kibinge has encountered challenges due to the impact of the pandemic, along with other coffee producers in Uganda. In April 2020 they ran into difficulties in shipping their product from the port in Mombasa, Kenya, when the impact of Covid-19 was growing in East Africa. 

At that time, there was a shortage of shipping containers, which resulted in stock remaining at the port in Mombasa for longer and an increase in charges for the buyer. Overall, production has been maintained as Ugandan coffee continues to be in high demand. 

In 2018, Kibinge launched a project called ‘Women in Coffee’, which supports female farmers to manage their own coffee trees. The women are currently selling small amounts to the speciality Fairtrade market. They hope to grow the brand, which they have named ‘Grown by Women.’

Read the full longitudinal case study of Kibinge here.

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