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Bringing New Opportunity to Coffee Farmers in Uganda

December 4, 2017

The Great Lakes region in western Uganda is home to the lush Rwenzori Mountains, which straddle the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and provide ideal conditions for growing coffee. Paradoxically, the coffee from this area is perceived as low quality because middlemen mix these Rwenzori coffees with inferior coffee grown elsewhere. This means farmers have no insight into the actual value of their coffee and are often taken advantage of by middlemen. 

Our supplier Great Lakes Coffee Company (GLC) aims to be different. Family-owned and operated, the company runs a sustainable coffee program to improve traceability, quality, and access to market and financial capital for farmers. Keurig has partnered with GLC to build on its existing sourcing relationships by co-investing in the sustainable coffee program and, ultimately, increasing the volume and quality of traceable coffee exported from western Uganda. 

A farmer weighs her coffee prior to sale at Great Lakes Coffee Company collection center. Photo credit: Graeme Williams
A farmer weighs her coffee prior to sale at Great Lakes Coffee Company collection center. Photo credit: Graeme Williams

Key components of the project include improving coffee quality and processing methods through training 16,000 farmer households in good agricultural practices. The project will also reduce the use of middlemen and provide better prices for farmers’ coffee by establishing collection points closer to farmers. Finally, the project will support the equitable participation of women and youth through training and the creation of community-run microfinance. In total, GLC hopes to include 7,000 additional farmers in its supply chain. 
“Keurig helps to support and build sustainable coffee supply chains in the Rwenzori Mountains through its partnership with Great Lakes Coffee. Together, we create a consistent and superior quality coffee while giving farmers market access. Not only does this coffee present excellent value for Keurig, but improved quality also means better prices for GLC and farmers. GLC, in turn, can incentivize farmers to invest in infrastructure and training. This approach is fairly unique in the world of coffee; Keurig has been the catalyst for change in one of the poorest coffee regions in the world.”Andreas Nicolaides, Company Director, Great Lakes Coffee Company
For Keurig, this means better traceability to the source of our coffee and better livelihoods for farming families. This enables us to better understand the issues at source, anticipate disruptions in our supply, and help our suppliers build programs that address the root causes of issues impacting farmers.

Photo credits: Graeme Williams

Tags: Sustainability