Made up of 10,044 smallholder expert coffee farmers, Gumutindo was created in 2000 by some of the basic cooperatives (primary societies), which emerged from the ruins of the older Ugandan cooperative system. Since the organisation is located on the slopes of Mount Elgon where the subtropical climate and the fertile volcanic soil is ideal for coffee production, it is not surprising that it aims to produce high-quality coffee. In 2003, Gumutindo production was Fairtrade certified and the following year, EcoCert certified all products of related farms as organic.
Quality is an economic must
Taking into account the quality of the end product constitutes one of the characteristics of the Gumutindo system. The system strongly encourages the associated farmers to commit in this sense, that is to say, to be aware that it is the excellent quality of the product that justifies the higher sales prices in the end. Lydia Nabulumbi, in charge of quality at the Gumutindo cooperative, manages the technical laboratory, advises producers and hosts the tasting workshops. As she explains, her job is to “make farmers understand that they must produce coffee of excellent quality to obtain a good price to increase their revenues and improve the livelihoods of their families”.
Gourmet coffee, specialty coffee
After the successes of fair and organic certifications of its production, Gumutindo entered into new niche markets with very high added value: speciality coffees. The key idea of this approach was to produce fair and organic coffees of very high quality that are selected with the greatest care to meet the specific demands of the importers. These importers want to offer top-scale coffees to certain very profitable market segments. The prices paid for these speciality coffees are higher than those paid for fair or organic coffee. That is why the people in charge of the Ugandan cooperative explore, and successfully so, Western and Far Eastern markets to sell these high-scale products to new customers.
With the support of the Trade for Development Centre
The Trade for Development Centre of Enabel, the Belgian development agency, supported this commercial venture through a project that was started by Gumutindo in November 2009. It was aimed at creating and commercialising speciality coffees on certain European markets with strong potentials such as France, Denmark and the Scandinavian countries. To do so, the Ugandan cooperative set up a global action plan, including the creation of superior quality coffees of ‘single origin’ that meet the criteria required by the European importers, the development of a commercial prospecting campaign in these regions, and the creation of communication and promotional tools adapted to these markets (especially, the creation of a modern and dynamic website).
This project, which ended in January 2011, achieved its objectives: contacts were made with European speciality coffee importers, sales volumes increased and the marketing and promotional strategy of Gumutindo was deployed onto new markets.
TDC contribution: €36,574 Project duration: 1 year Beneficiaries: 3,000 smallholder producers