USADF-Funded Coffee Cooperative Improves Ugandan Famers’ Livelihoods

June 22, 2012
USADFThis Bukonzo member proudly shows her savings book. Pictures record how much of the proceeds from her harvest she will allocate for group savings and for her children’s school fees.

The Bukonzo Joint Cooperative Society, a farmer-owned co-op of 3,400 smallholder farmers from more than 96 coffee-growing groups in the Kasese district of western Uganda, is thriving thanks to an expansion grant from the United States African Development Foundation (USADF).

Coffee, a priority sector for Feed the Future in Uganda, is the main source of income for many marginalized, smallholder farmers such as those belonging to the Bukonzo co-op. The organization is known for its high-quality, hand-picked, organic coffee in an area of the country still recovering from civil war and other conflicts. This year, Bukonzo was ranked as one of Uganda’s top five producers of Arabica coffee.

With USADF’s $240,000 in funding, Bukonzo is improving its marketing and storage facilities, and providing training to members in business management and farming practices. In the first half of 2012, Bukonzo has already met nearly 97 percent of its annual sales target.

With technical assistance from USADF’s implementing partner, the Uganda Development Trust (UDET), Bukonzo is expanding its access to local, regional, and international markets, including the United States. 

Women, including several war widows, own 85 percent of the cooperative. Everyone who holds a share in the organization participates actively, despite many members being illiterate. All have been trained in pictorial record-keeping to ensure equal participation in decision-making on Bukonzo’s business activities.

USADF leverages 1:1 matching funds from the Government of Uganda; from 2011-2012, USADF has directed over $3 million to Bukonzo and other agricultural cooperatives, community-based organizations, and small and medium enterprises in Uganda. As product quality improves and profits increase, more marginalized populations are impacted and the Government of Uganda is encouraged to make greater investments in its country’s economic development.

USADFPictorial record keeping enables illiterate members to take part in strategic planning and keep abreast of cooperative-wide business activities.