A cooperative in Kanungu is conserving a national park while trading in coffee to fight poverty

KANUNGU, February 26, 2024 – In a profound transformation, a community once devastated by the menace of poaching has discovered a newfound source of optimism in an unlikely commodity: coffee. Emerging from the challenges of wildlife conservation, a narrative of resilience and evolution unfolds as the people of Bwindi in Kanungu district shift their focus from poaching to safeguarding endangered species, cultivating and exporting specialty coffee through their cooperative, Bwindi Coffee Growers Cooperative Limited. This transition symbolises not only a shift in economic pursuits but also a testament to the community’s adaptability and determination in the face of adversity.

The locals through their cooperative have seen their livelihoods uplifted as they conserve the lush forest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and engage in coffee trade locally and internationally.

theCooperator News talked to key stakeholders of the cooperative and now takes you deeper into this inspiring tale, uncovering the interconnectedness of environmental stewardship and economic prosperity, and discovering the lasting impact of this extraordinary change on both the community and the world at large.

As they devised means to eradicate the extreme poverty that resulted in poaching, locals in Bwindi, Kanungu district, resorted to forming a cooperative that has since improved, forming an innovative idea that has supported cooperators in achieving joint marketing and aggregation, hence eliminating poverty and conserving the environment.

The revelation came forth from the Board of Directors and Management of Bwindi Coffee Growers Cooperative Limited during their presentation for the prestigious Inaugural Coop360˚ Innovation Award organised by the Uhuru Institute for Social Development and its partners. This pivotal moment unfolded amidst a pitching event held at the Kanungu Resort Hotel, nestled in the picturesque landscape of Southwestern Uganda.

Samuel Karibwende, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Bwindi Coffee Growers Cooperative Limited, highlighted that the cooperative was established in response to exploitation by coffee middlemen, aiming to provide former poachers with sustainable livelihoods.

“Currently, we have specialty coffee, which we jointly bulk and market; we have a ready market abroad; and locally, we sell to tourists who visit the gem park,” Karibwende said.

He emphasised that the cooperative had significantly transformed the livelihoods of its members by fostering enhanced coffee production, thereby leading to a notable rise in income levels among the community.

“Among our members are former poachers, and as you know, poaching is prohibited by law, so we believe that increasing our coffee volumes from four bags per season to over 10 bags per farmer would change the course of the story,” the chairman said.

Karibwende elaborated on the cooperative’s accomplishments, underscoring their effective execution of processing and manufacturing methodologies for liquid manure, a valuable resource subsequently disbursed among their members. This strategic initiative aims to bolster agricultural productivity and sustainability, ultimately leading to heightened harvest yields.

Similarly, Jamira Ainomugisha, the Manager of Bwindi Growers Coffee Cooperative Limited, further elaborated that the cooperative has implemented strategies to alleviate the impacts of climate change.

“We have negotiated a partnership with a private company called Solidarid, which deals in carbon trading, in order to extend carbon financing to our members,” Ainomugisha said.

Jamira Ainomugisha, the Manager of Bwindi Growers Coffee Cooperative Limited pitching to the judges of the Coop 360 Innovation Award (Photo by Chrispus Mubale Muke).

She commended the members for embracing agroforestry, a sustainable practice integrating coffee cultivation with other crops, thereby contributing to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere.

“Farmers sources of income have been diversified through alternative sources of income, unlike before,” Ainomugisha said.

The manager further emphasised that keeping farmers engaged in productive activities has led to a decrease in poaching, thus safeguarding endangered species from extinction. This initiative has not only contributed to conservation efforts but has also bolstered government revenue through a surge in tourism due to increased biodiversity preservation.

About the Innovation Award

The Innovations Award, a collaborative effort between the Uhuru Institute for Social Development and esteemed partners such as NTV Uganda, Bank of Uganda, Busara Centre for Behavioural Research, Goldstone, Spark TV, theCooperator, and Liberty Assurance, have been unveiled. This initiative is the first of its kind and seeks to foster competitiveness and stimulate creativity within Uganda’s cooperative sector, ultimately driving progress and innovation across various fields.


Buy your copy of thecooperator magazine from one of our country-wide vending points or an e-copy on emag.thecooperator.news

Exit mobile version