Made up of 2,000 members and located in the Rwenzori Mountains of western Uganda, BOCU started in 2011 as a consortium of six NGOs which promoted organic agriculture in Bukonzo. Using the very successful micro-washing station model to promote traceability and increase farmers’ income, the consortium gradually turned into a cooperative and a coffee exporter. It even became a pioneer in the region when it came to the production of certified organic coffee (which makes up about half of their production). Starting to export Arabica coffee in February 2012, the Union was then Fairtrade certified in 2014. Thanks to the higher income that comes with the certification, BOCU’s farmers are now part of a positive coffee cooperative movement of change in Western Uganda and are investing in social programmes.
CLIMATE CHANGE IS BAD FOR BUSINESS
According to the Uganda National Adaptation Plan, the ice cap of the Rwenzori Mountains could disappear within the next two decades, putting natural resources in jeopardy. That is why, in November 2013, BOCU carried out a climate and environment risk assessment of the union. The outcome revealed soil erosion and fertility issues that will lead to water stress later on.
IMPROVING MARKET ACCESS FOR SUSTAINABLE COFFEE
To tackle the issue (meaning preserving the soil quality and improving the farmers’ livelihoods), BOCU drew up a strategy to develop a sustainable production that preserves the region. The strategy firstly sought to sensitise farmers to new practices through a series of participatory workshops that focused on 3 areas of intervention, which were: reforestation and use of alternative energies; field training on soil erosion and fertility matters; and promotion of good agronomic practices. Subsequently, once the sensitisation workshops were completed, the strategy proceeded to the next phase: boosting BOCU’s exportations by increasing the quality of the coffee. Through investments in the local washing stations and storage facilities, and thanks to new sustainable practices, BOCU was able to improve the quality of the cupping score and increase the number of yield farmers, which leads a better quality final product. This was an absolute condition for the main goal: boosting exportations and reaching new customers in the growing European market of Arabica speciality coffees.
From December 2014 to December 2017; TDC-Enabel contribution: 99,266.56 €
Training and results
- Strengthening of capacity building in business management – 3 managers were trained, 6 contracts were honoured and 12 visits of buyers.
- Improvement of the quality management system: review and implementation of an internal management system; raining of 32 micro-station managers in best coffee washing practices and control measures; establishment of a control measurement system in the chain of custody.
COACHING IN MARKETING
After a visit of coach Christine Englebert at the end of 2014 and a first workshop, it appeared that some work needed to be carried out concerning quality, logistics and organisation. Following that, to preserve BOCU’s business and secure the farmers’ incomes, a coaching program in strategic and operational marketing was designed. It consisted of enhancing BOCU organizational capacities in communication and sales to improve their market access so to increasing incomes.
3 modules – with marketing budget – 39,443 € VAT included – From June 2014 to January 2017
- Production volume growth: +31,67%
- Turnover growth: +24,83%
- Selling prices growth: +26,30%
- Evolution of the client portfolio: +1
- Evolution of producer’s fair trade and organic certified: +31,67%
- Producers income growth: +75,13%