On 6 September, stakeholders from across the coffee value chain gathered for the “GCP East African Field Days” hybrid event, a journey through the progress and current activities of GCP’s Country Platforms in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
The event was a landmark for the implementation of GCP’s new strategy on achieving transformational change for more than one million farmers by 2030. Living income and prosperity is at the core of this strategy and the speaker presentations reflected this. As Gelkha Buitrago, GCP’s Director for Programs and Corporate Partnerships noted, “As we focus on advancing farmers’ prosperity, we need better ways of engaging with the environment and preparing for climate adaptation. We want to work with partners at the local level and the global level to achieve this. What we do in East Africa will be shared with other platforms and scaled in the future”.
Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority officially opened the event, welcoming partners and highlighting how the Government of Uganda collaborated with GCP to produce harmonised extension materials (the Coffee Handbook). He said, “We have had a long journey with GCP and I am happy to see that GCP will continue to support Ugandan coffee through new interventions. Our role is to continue to get the message out to farmers about climate change mitigation and this East African Field Day is a part of that”.
Ben Aschenaki introduced the work of Partnerships for Forest (P4F) to the attendees. The partnership between P4F and GCP aims to support sustainable coffee production and farmer income through agroforestry; restore and conserve forests in coffee origins and share learnings and successes. In Uganda, P4F is also working with UGACOF to embed agroforestry in their sourcing model across the Rwenzori region as well as working collectively to strengthen forest protection. Ben Aschenaki reflected on P4F’s new partnership with GCP saying, “For us, GCP is an umbrella that brings all of these aspects together. With the learnings from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and P4F’s experience, we hope to transform the coffee sector”.
The Country Platforms were then invited to share their experiences. George Watene (Kenya Coffee Platform) provided an overview of the Kenya Country Platform’s activities, highlighting economic viability of coffee farming as a priority for the Kenya Country Platform. He emphasised the importance of having a clear strategy as a pre-competitive platform: “As a platform, we believe that the knowledge to make coffee better should be freely available and stakeholders should compete on how to implement that knowledge”.
Dafrosa Sanga (Cafe Africa Tanzania) presented the progress made by the Tanzania Country Platform, where partnerships between the public and private sector have been key for driving the sector forward. She echoed the importance of shared knowledge by saying, “For us, information across the value chain should be shared. We need decision-making to be inclusive if we are going to be successful ”.
The Uganda Country Platform outlined the GCP Collective Action Initiative – Youth for Coffee in Uganda which falls under the GCP partnership with P4F. This initiative focuses on the renovation and rehabilitation of coffee trees in Uganda. The initiative works with rural youth to provide services to smallholder coffee farmers who have older, unproductive trees. This provides Ugandan youth with skills that can help them find employment and create businesses throughout the coffee value chain. As Caroline Nabukwasi (Cafe Africa Uganda) explains, “It takes agronomy skills to stump a coffee tree but it requires business skills for a farmer to let you stump their coffee trees. That’s why for us, agronomy and business development skills are both key in this initiative”.
At the same time, the GCP Collective Action Initiative – Youth for Coffee in Uganda promotes sustainable coffee production for a new generation of coffee farmers. Tony Mugoya (Uganda Coffee Farmer Alliance) complimented the initiative saying, “Bringing the youth into coffee farming helps solve the labour challenge we face. Most farmers are older than 50 years and many young people have moved into urban areas. This initiative is a win-win”.
This initiative brings together traders, roasters and public sector organisations in collaboration with government officials to address the challenges facing coffee farming. Two GCP Members and key partners of this new initiative commented on why they are supporting GCP in this Collective Action Initiative in Uganda:
“We see a lot of synergies in this initiative. Agroforestry is at the core of our sustainability pillars. We believe there is an opportunity here, not only to improve the quality of farmers’ lives but also to provide them with access to markets”.Anne Adhiambo Hyimo, Louis Dreyfus Company
“Nestlé is happy to support this new initiative. The planned activities are very much in-line with Nestlé’s sustainability practices… For those who have not done so yet, I really invite you to join this initiative and be part of it from the start!”Wouter de Smet, Nestlé
Gelkha Buitrago closed the event by saying, “We are really excited about this partnership with P4F because it enables us to look at agroforestry and climate resilience from an important new angle – farmer prosperity”. She also thanked the GCP Members and partners for their ongoing support and enthusiasm for the work taking place in East Africa: “Change happens at the local level. The work the Country Platforms do is complex; it takes time to convene stakeholders and agree on common goals. We are happy we can enable this work and create connections between Country Platforms to accelerate delivery of concrete results but we wouldn’t be able to do this without the GCP Members, so thank you!”
For more information on the GCP Collective Action Initiative Youth For Coffee in Uganda, please contact: