Category Archives: Uganda

Setting Standards

We put a lot of stock in acting responsibly.

Companies – especially those which trade internationally – have an environmental and ethical impact, whether they like it or not. So we have always tried to make sure that the impact we have is a positive one.

The reason we mention it is that we’ve just been named a ‘Sustainable Standard Setter’ by the Rainforest Alliance, for our commitment to being a globally responsible business.

For over 20 years The Rainforest Alliance has awarded those who they feel ‘champion sustainability efforts, protect the environment and support local communities worldwide’.

We’ve worked closely with the Rainforest Alliance for over five years now. The partnership has led to lots of positive changes in our supply chain, and it helps us to ensure a sustainable supply of the high quality coffee we need for the future. And thanks largely to our work with the Rainforest Alliance on the ground, all of our coffee is now independently certified.

Our sustainability manager, Simon Hotchkin, had this to say: “We are thrilled to have been recognised by the Rainforest Alliance as Sustainable Standard Setters.”

“It feels great to have been awarded for all the hard work that we have put into 100% certification and for our Planet Agenda projects that go above and beyond certification. Some of our most significant achievements have been accomplished in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance.”

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Beatrice on smart farming

It’s amazing what a difference you can make with a couple of small farming changes.

Beatrice Kakai, a Ugandan coffee smallholder, has been picking up some new techniques from our partners, the Rainforest Alliance and FRICH (a UK Government fund supporting African farmers).

Practices like spacing out coffee plants and using other trees for shade help with… well, if you watch the short video above, Beatrice can tell you herself.

You can find out much more about our work in Rwanda and Uganda here and here.

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Climate-smart coffee farming

On the slopes of Uganda’s Mount Elgon, rising temperatures and poor farming practices mean smallholder coffee farmers aren’t growing as much as they could.

In fact, we think that even from the best farms we’ve seen, just a few positive changes could double the yield.

We’re talking sustainable changes like organic compost, spacing the trees out, pruning, recycling plastic and growing shade trees.

These can have a huge impact – meaning more coffee to sell, and better incomes for growers.

We’ve made a film about it here. And you can find out much more about our work in Uganda and Rwanda here and here.

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“I can take my children to a better school”

We’re working with the Rainforest Alliance and FRICH (a UK Government fund supporting African farmers) in Rwanda and Uganda – and in this series of posts, we’re profiling some of the people we’ve been meeting along the way.

This is Beatrice. As well as tending to her coffee smallholding, Beatrice and her husband look after ten children (including a grandchild) and her livelihood in coffee provides for their food and their education. Beatrice has already made great strides with her farming techniques under Rainforest Alliance certification and is now learning how to farm to adapt to climate change.

“Before I was under the Rainforest Alliance programme my farm was not so productive – I have joined the group, I’ve been taught and now I am getting a good yield.

“I used to take my children to rural schools where the level of education is not very good. Now I can take my children to a better school so at least they can get a good education. I’m also able to buy and store food – I used to have difficulties in paying for food – now I can buy maize, which I can store and use as food for my children.”

Beatrice worries about climate change and the effect that it could have on her coffee and on her food production:

“It is true that there is a change in climate in our country. Even last year in 2012, there was too much sunshine and it affected the way the coffee flowered – the sunshine continued for a longer period and all the flowers dropped and even the berries were very few. So we had a very poor harvest last year because of long draught.”

Beatrice is excited about the climate smart training she is receiving and is quick to put her learning into practice – she is already separating her waste, making sure she doesn’t burn plastics and is shading her compost.

Now she is giving advice to her neighbours who are full of admiration for her successful and rather beautiful smallholding.

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“Now I get four kilos per tree… or five”

We’re working with the Rainforest Alliance and FRICH (a UK Government fund supporting African farmers) in Rwanda and Uganda – and in this series of posts, we’re profiling some of the people we’ve been meeting along the way.

Mamadi has been a coffee farmer for most of his life and has seen many changes over the years – both in the coffee industry and in the weather that is so crucial to his livelihood. The rains and dry periods have become increasingly unpredictable and coffee farmers have contended with long periods of drought.

Now he is being trained to adapt his farming to climate change – not only to help him cope with the changes in the weather, but also to mitigate the effect that his farming has on the climate.

Mamadi is keen for as many farmers as possible to be trained in climate smart farming techniques and that’s one reason why he hosts training sessions at his own coffee smallholding. He shows fellow farmers how good practices can help to adapt to climate change and can also increase the yield and quality of coffee that they grow.

“After training and transferring the knowledge into my garden every year I am increasing my coffee production,” he says.

“I am also improving the amount of coffee I get from each tree – now I can get four kilos per tree…or five.

“I think I have benefited from the training and the more money I get means the more work I can do. The training and the increasing of my coffee production has made me see better things for my family.”

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Our project in Uganda

It might not always be the first thing in your mind when you’re sat with a cup in your hands, but halfway across the world, somebody grew those coffee beans.

Behind every great tasting coffee lies the hard work and expertise of farmers. And having good relationships with our coffee growers is hugely important to us.

This year, we started a special project with 6,000 smallholders in Uganda.

We are working with the Rainforest Alliance to help introduce smarter ways of farming: natural drying methods and climate-smart farming practices.

These help improve the quality of the coffee and reduce the impact of high temperatures and drought spells.

In short, it makes these small businesses more sustainable – so the farmers have a better chance of growing consistent crops which fetch good prices.

Check back in a couple of weeks for a few more details of our Ugandan project.

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