The Rwenzori coffee project
Home of the Rwenzori coffee project
Home of the Rwenzori coffee project
Welcome to the Web portal of Rwenzori coffee geographical indication project.
In the following pages, you will find all project related information (that are many), including:
The project details and objectives, and all involved contributors,
A user-friendly compendium about coffee farming, covering all related topics from agronomy, pests and diseases, market organization, marketing and certification. In case of curiosity, the compendium is extended by a litterature review where more detailled information, sometime scientific, can be found. More details →
The project database gathering all technical information generated by the project stakeholders. Raw data from surveys, trials, and so on, are not of immediate access for protection policy reasons, but all analytical results from these (maps, graphics, discussions, etc.) are made available. More details →
Some specific pages dedicated to the Geographic Indication (GI) certification systems to present the concept and the way it is implemented, in general, but also in the Rwenzori coffee production context. More details →
A "Marketing and Traceability" access is open for those who whish to know where, when and how was produced the coffee they currently enjoy in their cup, and who whish to buy more. More details →
In the beginning of the 20th century, Arabica coffee was introduced in Western Uganda on the slopes of Rwenzori Mountains. The region is optimal for coffee farming as between 1500m. to 2000m., climate conditions are favourable to Arabica growth and soil richness is evenly distributed ensuring correct production level.
Under these conditions, coffee farming started to attract an increasing number of farmers from the mountains, who were able to generate from the crop an important source of income, thus improving their livelihood.
Until the 90s, Rwenzori coffee production remained discreet, limited in volume and known only by coffee trading specialists. The situation changed during 2000 decade when the coffee market initiated an important mutation which definitely impacted the region production: from a traditional commodity market, where volume and price prevail in trade negotiation, a new market segment emerged, where quality receives increased consideration. The “Specialty coffee” market segment was born and since then it has permanently grown, supported by a sustained demand from consumers who developed a connoisseur attitude, interested by flavour and aroma; new coffee consumers are now looking for products of quality, with specific and enjoyable combination of aroma.
Coffee from Rwenzori achieves such level of excellence. Therefore, its increasing attractivity and extended efforts made by Rwenzori coffee farmers to maintain high quality production standards.
In many ways, the context is a great opportunity: the sustained demand from consumers ensure the sale of the production at decent prices and it is an efficient economic situation to transfer richness to producers’ communities, ensuring social and economic growth to the region. The situation also ensures the supply to consumers of the beverage they are looking for.
As such, the situation is ideal to ensure the contentment of all parties. However, it is at risk if one considers the increasing competition on the specialty market and the need of guaranty to consumers of sustainable, high quality standards.
Therefore, this initiative aiming at setting production rules, regulation and control procedures in order to protect and preserved the quality of Rwenzori coffee, which is offered to coffee connoisseurs.
Quality is an important and fascinating concept but, if one think about it, not that simple to evaluate. It can be applied to many various domains, from people to industrial processes, it can be specific or general, and its evaluation can be quantitative (with precise measurement) or purely subjective with statements such as “I like” or “I don’t like”, “it is good”, or not, “it is beautiful”, or not really. Dealing with subjectivity is probably the most interesting case, but it is certainly the most challenging one. It is the one we are going to face when dealing with “coffee quality”.
Working on coffee quality, we can choose to focus our attention on...
Rwenzori coffee project considers all these criteria to guaranty the best, sustainable quality to consumers. To do so, a certification program is designed and implemented to fix production and marketing standards that apply to the region.
In a quite original manner, the project combines three different approaches to achieve an optimal result. Two of these, Faire Trade and Organic certificates, focus on the production and management methods; the former to favour good governance and equitable management, the latter to promote practices that develop human and environment health. They are presented in detail some pages further. The third one, Geographical Indication certification, deals more with cup quality, its description and how its characteristics originate from Rwenzori area. It is also a means to reinforce and structure the farmers’ ownership of the activity. The concept of GI and the way it is implemented are presented in separate pages of this site.
The project is born from the necessity to organise and structure the coffee production in Rwenzori, to gain in efficiency and to secure a stable access to the market, for a sustainable economic activity.
Triple certification rapidly become a solid option to achieve the objective. It was debated within a group of three coffee cooperative unions, NUCAFE, a national representative of coffee farmers’ organisations, and two of its local partners: Bukonzo Organic Cooperatives Union and Bukonzo Joint cooperatives union. Further support was rapidly obtained from five independent young cooperatives: Karangura, Kabonero, Kateebwa, Bukonzo Progressive Farmers, and Bukabughendera cooperatives. Altogether, they represent a community of 8300 producers organised in 21 cooperatives from all parts of Rwenzori.
The project is coordinated by NUCAFE, the National Union of Coffee agribusinesses and farm Enterprises. It is an umbrella National coffee farmers’ organization founded in 2003 as a successor of the Uganda Coffee Farmer’s Association (UCFA), now representing 198 coffee producers' associations and more than one million coffee farming households in the country. For scientific backstopping, it receives support from Cirad research institute, which expertise includes innovation transfer and improvement of coffee production systems. Both NUCAFE and Cirad interact with the Ugandan Registration Service Bureau (URSB), which provides the legal environment of Geographical Indication in Uganda.
Under this construction, the proposal generated interest and received a favourable echo from the European Commission who agreed to fund the project under the Switch Africa Green Programme, for the promotion of Sustainable Consumption Production and Circular Economy concepts through support to SMEs.
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