In August we told you about the Gumutindo Sustainability Project in Uganda– a collaboration between the Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative, Matthew Algie and ethical trading organisation Twin. This September and October, we returned to the co-operative to assist with quality development and assess how things are progressing on Mount Elgon.
The initiative is funded by the Fair Development Fund – a unique collaboration between Sainsbury’s and Comic Relief. The aim of the project is to assist farmers in the Mount Elgon region adopt environmentally sustainable practices and become triple certified. Not only will this initiative support climate adaptation, but it will increase capacity and improve coffee quality - enabling more coffee to be sold at better prices.
Quality Control and Training is a major part of the project. To help develop a better understanding of the finished quality of the coffee, Matthew Algie’s Technical Director, Ewan Reid, worked with the co-operative on a joint cupping workshop in Mbale. They sampled varying roast profiles and cupped dozens of coffees from both Mount Elgon and non-Ugandan coffee sources to stimulate the senses and discussion. Ewan provided quality control spreadsheets to help improve the monitoring of cupping scores and coffee traceability. He also held a blind fruit tasting to help staff develop accurate coffee descriptions.
During the trip, Ewan visited Gumuntindo’s new Ndokhwe community washing station (named after a local river). They use African beds for drying and careful sorting of parchment. They’ve also been carrying out training to optimise picking quality. The mill is still having the finishing touches put to it but having cupped coffee during our visit we could really taste the improvements already.
Maria Kirya heads up quality control at Gumutindo and explains here the impact this and the several other new wet mills will make this year.
Twin’s Climate and Environment Project Officer, Xavier Hamon, also visited the cooperative to assess farmer level changes with a view to becoming more sustainable. He saw that farmers were improving animal waste management, implementing natural water filters for their household water supplies, using more fuel efficient stoves and using shade trees for their coffee plants to create a better growing climate. 73 personal protective equipment kits (water proof jacket, gumboots, gloves, respirators and goggles) have also been procured for farmers.
One of the key objectives going forward is to make sure that the farming training being distributed to the ‘community knowledge workers’ and ‘lead farmers’ is being effectively cascaded so that a wider group of farmers can understand why they should change their farming practices and how to go about it. Training is progressing well we are working closely with the Rainforest Alliance consultant to ensure certification gets underway soon.
New drying beds at Gumutindo promise great coffee for this season.
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About Sainsbury's Fair Development Fund
Sainsbury's Fair Development Fund is a unique fund run by Comic Relief and financed by Sainsbury's, it aims to create a broader and more collaborative way of supporting Fairtrade. This helps get more products on our shelves from smallholder farmers in developing countries.
About Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative, Uganda
Gumutindo is an organisation of smallholder coffee farmers who produce washed arabica coffee for the specialty coffee market. The cooperative's strategic objective is to mobilise more men, women and youth to grow coffee as a business from which to generate income for good housing, health, education, clean water and energy - while conserving nature.
Twin is an ethical trading organisation working with over 30 producer organisations representing 300,000 coffee, cocoa and nut producers in 16 countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia. Twin works in three main product categories - coffee, cocoa, and nuts - and partners with likeminded businesses in Europe, Asia and the USA to grow the market for ethically sourced products. For more, visit www.twin.org.uk