There is great potential with our Coffee Farmer Cooperative-Kanungu. This is only the end of the first year and we like to move in phases to insure that the foundation is solid before taking a big step like building a processing factory. There are already 350 members of this cooperative, with the potential to add a thousand or more from the district. In addition to the numbers of farmers, the group has agreed to work towards 100% organic farming, although that will take a little time. Once that is accomplished and the factory is built, adding value to the coffee by processing it, we have the potential to make a significant economical impact that is sustainable on the whole district.
They are split into 16 groups, each with its own Village Savings and Loans (VSLA) scheme. The VSLA are there to help farmers buy seeds and other things and also VSLA groups support the members who cannot afford school fees or have fallen ill. As with our other coffee and rice cooperatives, the drought is seriously hurting some farmers who are far from a water source. The loans they are able to get from the VSLA are more important than ever right now.
The partner we have on this project is the Kigezi Coffee Development Academy, headed by Joshua. He is a strong champion for these farmers, constantly advocating for them with the government, both locally and nationally and he is greatly responsible for everything that has been achieved, thus far. He also has a team of young, energetic and committed people working beside him.
I have so much optimism that this is going to be a huge success for all involved. As I always tell our farmers, we are all pieces of one machine. We each have a part that is necessary to make the machine work. We either all succeed together or we all fail together.