In 1995, 4 coffee farmers in Kibinge, Central Uganda, formed an association in the hope that collectively they could improve the quality and volume of their coffee production. The original association was run as a company, but as it grew it struggled to turn a profit. In 2009 the management decided that the business should be converted into a member-owned, registered cooperative. The cooperative has since grown rapidly, and currently has around 2,000 registered members, one-third of whom are women. In 2011 the Kibinge Coffee Farmer’s Cooperative Society (KCFCS) became Fairtrade certified.
The cooperative employs ‘promoter farmers’ who work directly with the farmers as a link to the cooperative to ensure good communication and high standards. Farmers are divided into Promoter Farmer Coffee Zones and sub-divided into groups with an elected coordinator. KCFCS buys the coffee from the farmers and then processes and exports the coffee on their behalf. They also provide regular training on good agricultural practices, ensuring higher productivity and quality.
With the extra funds generated from Fairtrade certification price premiums, KCFCS decided to establish a KCFCS Farm Supply Shop in 2013 that is conveniently located and offers inputs at competitive prices. Members can also buy inputs using credit obtained through the KCFCS Savings & Credit Unit, also established in 2013. Additionally, the cooperative runs social, economic and environmental projects in the local area such as a project to supply the local health centre with electricity and improve, grade and repair local roads. In 2014 KCFCS won the Fairtrade Africa small-producer of the Year award.