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Masindi: Coffee farmers’ coop embarks on value addition

MASINDI, December 20, 2023 – Farmers under Bwijanga Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Society Limited in Bwijanga Sub-county, Masindi district now stand to make more money after their coffee huller started operating on Monday.

The coffee hulling machine removes the parchment layer from the coffee bean, a crucial step in the journey of coffee from plant to cup.

The cooperative acquired the coffee huller courtesy of the Agriculture Cluster Development Project [ACDP] in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Husbandry and Fisheries [MAAIF]in 2021, but it was non-operational due to a lack of electricity.

Speaking to theCooperator on Monday the Cooperative’s Secretary, Simon Wairima noted that the process of hulling coffee is moving on smoothly and that farmers were excited when they were told during the annual general meeting that the machine would begin operations soon.

“We had our second annual general meeting [AGM] on November 15, 2023, and the members were so much excited about this milestone of having the machine operating and hulling coffee. As coffee farmers, we are going to be able to benefit more from our business,” he noted.

However, Wairima added that they still encounter several challenges such as post-harvest handling of coffee.

Other challenges, he said, include limited shares by the members and harvesting of immature coffee berries to earn quick money.

Benedicto Ssensaga, the cooperative’s chairperson urged members to support the development of the cooperative, saying it will improve their livelihoods, now that they can process their coffee.

He also advised the coffee farmers to harvest ripe coffee and maintain good hygiene to avoid compromising the quality of coffee.

“During the festive season, coffee buyers tend to move around giving quick money. You end up harvesting unready coffee yet you are the one losing and also affecting the quality. Desist from the quick money if we are to maintain the quality,” he told the farmers.

Speaking during the AGM, the chairperson LCIII, Bwijanga Sub-county, James Mudede challenged the cooperative members to ensure that they secure their land by titling it.

“Let’s protect this land where this machine is seated from being grabbed by land grabbers. Your seeing how untitled land is being grabbed,” he advised.

Sensagga (R) together with Julius Twiine, Tthe UCDA Regional Coffee Extension Officer, Greater Bunyoro (Photo by Yosam Gucwaki).

Kenneth Kiiza Nyendwoha the Member of Parliament Buruli County asked coffee farmers in the district to join the cooperative and also to make use of the machine.

The legislator also challenged the cooperative’s leadership to benchmark with successful cooperatives like Bugisu Cooperative Union if they are to take the cooperative to a higher level.

“It is high time that we, the coffee farmers, embraced value addition. Let’s use this opportunity of having a coffee hulling machine to benefit. Let’s use our numbers to strengthen the cooperative such that we are self-reliant,” the MP said.

He also warned coffee farmers not to replace their coffee gardens with sugarcane, saying the market for coffee keeps growing.

During the AGM, it was agreed that members pay a subscription fee of Shs 10,000, buy shares at Shs 20,000 each, the cooperative can get a loan not exceeding Shs 200 million, and a budget of Shs 350mln was passed for the year 2024.

Bwijanga Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Society Limited which started in 2018 has 1,050 active members.

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