Coffee is a lucrative cash crop for smallholder farmers around the globe but the impacts of climate change remain a serious threat. The climate risks range from intense droughts to unpredictable rain patterns and their impacts are very problematic including increased incidents of pest and diseases and post-harvest losses. Nevertheless, rural farmers’ organizations which are also known as cooperatives, can play a key role in building coffee farmer’s resilience to climate change.

Cooperatives offer great platforms for trainings on climate-smart practices. Through Cooperative Extensionists who are well versed in coffee management and climate adaptation, the knowledge can be spread to many farmers. Additionally, through services like collective bulking, processing and marketing which cooperatives offer their members, farmers can earn more profit from their coffee thus increasing their ability to invest in climate-smart practices. Additionally, collective saving enables cooperatives to invest in climate-smart technologies and machinery that their members can use to improve their resilience to climate change. Cooperatives also offer increased access to genuine agro-inputs such as drought tolerant and disease resistant coffee seedlings, fertilizers and pesticides.

However, many cooperatives in Uganda do not operate as strong and professional enterprises. They need support to enhance service delivery to their members and improve their overall position in the coffee value chain. For these reasons, International Coffee Partners (ICP) is focusing on strengthening and professionalizing 12 Cooperatives who represent over 5,000 farming households in the districts of Luwero, Nakaseke and Nakasongola. The project which began in October 2020 is implemented by Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS).

In Uganda, one of the ICP project’s focus is to build strong, efficient and professional farmer organizations that effectively offer inclusive services to their members.

Victor Komakech

Climate Change Coordinator HRNS Uganda

Capacity Building of Cooperatives and Their Extensionists

Komakech gave insights into how ICP is building the capacity of Ugandan cooperatives: “We administered a tool called the Organizational Development Scorecard to assess the performance of the 12 cooperatives that are part of the project. Based on those outcomes, we are now supporting each cooperative to create a development action plan.” The development plans guide HRNS’ Field Officers on what topics the cooperative leaders and members need to be strengthened on. Topics range from coffee management, climate-smart adaptation and mitigation, leadership and governance, business planning, resource mobilization, marketing and more. The team in Uganda are also currently in the process of developing a training manual and a facilitators guide as reference materials for cooperative leaders and extensionists.

Trainings on Climate-smart Practices

Trainings on climate-smart practices and Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) continue to be an essential part of ICP’s interventions in Uganda. This will not only build cooperative member’s resilience to climate change, but also improve the quality of the coffee the cooperative members produce.

Gender Sensitization Trainings

ICP also aims to increase gender sensitization which will result in more female leaders and decision-makers in the cooperative’s management. These women will influence and effect cooperative’s policies so that more women become members and participate in activities and trainings on climate-smart practices which are offered through the cooperatives.

Female cooperative leaders loading bulked coffee for processing – Luwero, Uganda

Female cooperative leader voicing her opinion during a management meeting – Luwero, Uganda

Cooperation to Scale-up Climate Change Mitigation

In Uganda, ICP plans to go much further than promoting climate-smart agriculture for improved livelihoods. It will also consider side effects like increased use of agrochemicals and offer solutions like carbon offsetting systems to minimize the carbon emissions of farmers. This goal will only be achieved and accelerated through the cooperation of cooperatives and other players in the coffee value chain.

More ICP Field Notes:

Teachers Become Exemplary Farm Entrepreneurs: ICP’s Impact in Uganda

Paul Bhumba (47) and his wife Jane (37) are among 1.7 million Ugandan families who grow coffee as a key livelihood source. But for years, the full harvest potential of their 4-acre coffee farm has remained untapped. They would harvest about 2 bags (200kg) of coffee...

International Coffee Partners: 20 years of hands-on support for smallholder coffee farmers

Back in 2001 during the devastating coffee crisis that led to severe hardships for coffee communities and millions of smallholder coffee farmers a select group of dedicated coffee companies decided to cooperate and join forces for fostering effective solutions that...

ICP-Event: Focus on People! How the coffee sector can ensure smallholder families’ livelihoods.

We cordially invite you to participate in the celebration of 20 Years of International Coffee Partners (ICP). ICP's vision to improve the livelihoods of smallholder coffee farming families has become more relevant than ever. Join us on Tuesday, June 15th at 10 am CEST...

What Smallholders Recommend on 20 Years of ICP

Since 2001, International Coffee Partners (ICP) has worked to improve the livelihoods of 100,000 smallholder coffee farming families in 13 countries. To celebrate 20 years of hands-on smallholder family support, ICP asked smallholder coffee farming families to answer...

20 Years ICP: About the Relevance of Collaboration in the Coffee Sector

International Coffee Partners (ICP) was founded in 2001 by dedicated coffee companies to address the challenges of smallholder coffee farming families together. Now, 20 years later, dedication and joint activities remain important to ICP Shareholders. But...

Celebrating 20 Years of ICP: The importance of humanistic values and entrepreneurship in smallholder coffee farmer support

Climate change, a pandemic, less interest of youth in agriculture – numerous challenges are threatening our daily cup of coffee. And more importantly: They are constantly looming over those families who grow and harvest the beans that give us our morning energy boost....

20 years ICP: A pre-competitive approach to coffee sustainability

At the beginning of International Coffee Partners (ICP) stands the idea that, if everyone in coffee sustainability is working alone, not enough can be achieved for smallholder coffee farming families. Only together things can be changed systematically and with a...

20 years of impact: What International Coffee Partners (ICP) achieved

ICP’s work is about people. Smallholder coffee farming families that prosper, become more competitive and increase sustainable production. To achieve this, ICP implements innovative project work on gender, youth, family business, farmer organizations and the promotion...

20 Years of ICP – Digital Celebration Now Online!

ICP’s vision to improve the livelihoods of smallholder coffee farming families has become more relevant than ever. On Tuesday, June 15th our online celebration and panel discussion “Focus on People! How the coffee sector can ensure smallholder families’ livelihoods”...

20 Years ICP: Main takeaways from online celebration

International Coffee Partners (ICP) was founded in 2001 by dedicated coffee companies to address the challenges of smallholder coffee farming families together. Celebrating 20 years of ICP, representatives of the coffee companies came together to both look back and to...