- Headquarters location: Kyarumba
- Region: Rwenzori Mountains, Western Uganda
- Founded: 1999 as a micro-finance cooperative, first coffee exports in 2010
- Producers: 4,934 smallholder farmers (3,846 women; 1,088 men) in 11 primary societies; 55% of the board are women.
- Post-harvest process: Fully-washed and naturals; 32 micro-washing stations with raised, mesh drying tables.
- Certifications: Fairtrade, Organic
- Varieties: SL14, SL28, Nyasaland
- Soil types: Old tectonic soil
- Harvest time: September to December (main); February to May
- Elevation: 1100 — 1900
- Website: Bukonzo Joint Co-operative Union website
More about Bukonzo Joint Co-operative Union
Bukonzo Joint Co-operative Union
Download pdf information sheet on Bukonzo Joint Co-operative Union.
From the heights of the beautiful Rwenzori Mountains in Western Uganda, the farmers in Bukonzo Joint Co-operative Union are pioneering an approach to empower women in rural communities, as well as beginning to fulfil their potential for producing some of the world’s finest organic washed Arabica coffee.
Groundbreaking work on gender justice
- In 2015, Bukonzo Joint won the SCAA Sustainability Award for their work on gender justice.
- Bukonzo Joint Co-operative Union are proud of the international reputation they have gained for the work they have carried out in coffee growing communities around gender justice. The power in families lies traditionally with men. The co-operative has pioneered the methodology ‘Gender Action Learning System’ (GALS) to involve whole communities in analysing how couples can be jointly responsible for coffee production and make joint household decisions.
- See a clip of GALS at Bukonzo Joint Co-operative.
- Bukonzo Joint Co-operative Union is inspiring a movement across Africa, and is working with other JMI-member co-operatives to train them in the GALs approach.
Striving to produce the best quality coffee
- In 2016, Bukonzo Joint doubled their volume of exportable green coffee from 165,293 kg in 2015 to 359,271 kg. They opened a new storage and processing facility in Kasese with a large drying area. Coffee is hulled, bagged and loaded into containers for export in Kasese, instead of Kampala, resulting in improved efficiency and quality control.
- Bukonzo Joint Co-operative Union’s farmers have invested in constructing community level micro-washing stations to transform the quality of their Arabica coffee. After many years with no access to remunerative markets, in recent years Bukonzo Joint has established a following among specialty coffee buyers for their fantastic coffees and commitment to gender justice, social and economic development and improving the environment.
- The farmers are conscious of taking measures to conserve the land in the face of more extreme weather patterns caused by climate change. They are building terraces to prevent erosion and adopting no-dig practices, instead clearing around coffee trees using machetes to cut the grass but preserve its root structure in the soil. Bukonzo Joint is featured as a case study in Twin’s 2017 Climate and Coffee Report.
- Farmers do not put chemical fertilisers or pesticides on their land, using homemade composts and rotted animal manure instead. They have both USDA and EU organic certification.
Fairtrade enabling community advancements
Bukonzo Joint Co-operative Union achieved Fairtrade-certification in May 2012. With the first social premium, they invested in building an operations theatre and accommodation at a community health centre. People travel many kilometres to reach the centre but had nowhere to stay and women still die in complications during childbirth, unable to afford or reach the private hospital in the region. The new facilities are helping to change this situation.
In 2014, Bukonzo Joint improved roads and build bridges across streams and rivers to enable vehicles to reach communities and save farmers many hours of carrying coffee by foot. They have also assisted micro-washing stations and their communities to build water flow schemes, saving women in particular, many hours, of fetching water, as well as helping to improve the quality of their coffee.