How One Coffee Company Is Empowering Positive Change at Origin

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The following post is an edited excerpt of contend provided by Volcafe. Volcafe is an NCA member company. (Learn more about contributing guest blog posts to National Coffee.) 

Visit the NCA Coffee Gives Back Charity Showcase to learn more about how NCA members are working to support coffee communities at origin. 

Child labor is a big problem in some of the poorer areas of Uganda, which includes coffee producing communities. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution.

Any resolution demands a dedicated, sustained effort. It must get to the root cause of the problem and improve the economic viability of households so that parents can afford to let their children attend school.

Some coffee companies are choosing step up and take action to empower positive change at origin.

When Kyagalanyi Coffee Ltd., part of the Volcafe group, realized the extent of the child labor problem in West Nile, it worked together with its partners to develop a Child Labour Free Zone (CLFZ). With different partners sharing a common goal, they were able to identify many cases of child labor, raise awareness of the risks and change the behavior of many families.

Each partner had its own role to play. Kyagalanyi’s staff focused on preventing child labor among its coffee farmers by improving coffee harvests, and thereby increasing family income. This was achieved by training the farmers in good agronomy practices, such as regular rejuvenation, fertilization, and pest control. The Kyagalanyi team also provided guidance on the quality and taste that buyers will pay a premium for, as well as encouraging farmers to understand their production costs and to record where investment delivers a higher yield per hectare and commands a healthy price.

Change takes time to bear fruit, so the team also recommended short-term economic activities to increase a family’s income quickly and allow the children to get back to school without delay: these side businesses included rope making and banana growing.

Kyagalanyi Coffee is currently working with its partners to expand the CLFZ in West Nile and to identify cost-efficient strategies for eradicating child labor.

Related Reading: A Conversation with Anneke Fermont, Regional Sustainability Manager at Volcafe’s Kyagalanyi

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Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Standard-Setter Award

As a result of their dedication, Kyagalanyi Coffee Ltd. has been presented with a Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Standard-Setter Award.

The award recognizes companies who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to sustainability, improving livelihoods and conserving forests all around the world.

“The kind of transformational, global work the Rainforest Alliance undertakes would not be possible without the partnerships we have established with forward-thinking, progressive companies,” said Han de Groot, CEO of the Rainforest Alliance, in a release.

“The individuals, communities, and businesses we have highlighted are working to address the significant and related challenges of climate change, rural poverty, and biodiversity loss. Their work has resulted in real changes on the ground, and is helping to improve conditions for farmers and forest communities.”

Uganda’s coffee is grown by more than one million smallholder farmers and is often their most important source of income — but Ugandan coffee yields are among the lowest in the world. Kyagalanyi Coffee has been working closely with colleagues from the UTZ certification program — and with the Rainforest Alliance — to address these issues through sustainable farming methods.

As of August 2018, Kyagalanyi works with over 17,000 UTZ and/or Rainforest Alliance certified households that produce Arabica coffee (and the number has been increasing rapidly).

The company has developed a strong farmer support program, which has increased coffee yields and income for these families by 35-45% in West Nile, and 60-70% in Mt. Elgon.

Read more about Volcafe’s mission on Medium


Visit the NCA Coffee Gives Back Charity Showcase to learn more about how NCA members are working to support coffee communities at origin. 


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