Rwenzori Farmers’ Cooperative Union (RFCU)

On the slopes of Mount Ndali, close to Rwanda and Congo, a British major developed Ndali Estate into a major tea plantation. In the 1970s, the estate was confiscated by Idi Amin Dada’s militia but was returned twenty years later to a grandniece who soon associated with the local farmers. 1,200 farmers joined forces in the Mubuku Vanilla Farmers Association (recently renamed Rwenzori Farmers’ Cooperative Union) and became the first vanilla producers to boast fair trade certification. Besides that, the cooperative also obtained organic certification, and farmers gradually saw their revenue increase as Ndali Estate purchases their green vanilla at higher prices for processing and marketing ends. The first fair trade premiums were then spent on educational projects as the quality of government schools in the area is relatively poor. 


With the support of the Trade for Development Centre of the Belgian development agency, an action programme was launched with a double objective: on the one hand, providing training and education to farmers to bring about improved quality in vanilla cultivation, and on the other hand, work towards diversification to coffee and cocoa. Meanwhile, both objectives have been achieved. Farmers believe in vanilla more than ever and have increased their acreage. The main reason is the hike in sales of vanilla under fair trade and organic conditions, thanks to which the farmers’ revenue has significantly increased over the last two years. Thanks to Ndali Estate’s marketing efforts, British top chefs recommend their quality product and they have landed some major new customers such as Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream multinational, which has even offered to finance a training and meeting centre in the area, as well as coffee and cocoa storage facilities. And there’s more hope in store around Mount Ndali: coffee and cocoa are about to be certified and the commercial contacts with America’s Great Lakes Coffee and Britain’s Divine Chocolate are promising. 

From August 2011 to December 2013, TDC-Enabel’s contribution:

€ 50,319 

Achieved results (2010-2014)

Evolution of the share of selling under fair trade or sustainable conditions= +100%

  • Vanilla share: +10%
  • Coffee share:+17%
  • Cocoa share: +22%
  • Fair trade vanilla in total sales: +45%
  • Rwenzori’s vanilla accounts for 60% of the region’s vanilla
  • Total fair trade & fair trade organic payments including premium: +196,8%
  • Evolution of customer’s portfolio: +2
  • 2013: +200 new producers involved in FT

Achieved results :


Production growth: +41,18%

COFFEE (2013-2014)

Production growth: +4,17%

Type steun

Appui financier

Type organisatie

Organisation de producteurs


August 2011
- December 2013
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Cacao, Café, Vanille

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