Jennipher Wettaka & Kisolo Boaz, Gumutindo Coffee Co-operative, Mount Elgon, Uganda
Jennipher Wattaka©Simon Rawles
Jennipher Wattaka and Kisolo Boaz are members of Nasufwa Growers Co-operative Society. It is one of six co-operative societies which are affiliated to Gumutindo Co-op and its 570 members produce a total of around 100 tonnes of coffee each year.
Jennipher Wattaka is a member of Nasufwa Co-op committee and also sits on the Fairtrade premium committee.
Jennipher’s coffee farm is two acres in size and her 2,000 coffee trees produce a crop of around 500kg of parchment coffee each year. She works full-time as the parish chief administrator as well as looking after her family of three boys and three girls aged between 3 and 15. Jennipher is also studying at evening classes for a qualification in Public Administration and Management to help her get a promotion. This entails making the long trip down the mountain to Mbale, returning early the next morning. Her husband works full-time on the farm and she helps out when she has time.
Uganda is a traditional, patriarchal society in which women are subservient to their husbands, even though many women traditionally run the family farm or do most of the work on it. But the women farmers from Nasufwa Co-op are changing that. They are seen as a successful and positive role model by other local women. They get a higher income from their Fairtrade coffee and their co-op is making positive changes in the community.
‘As a woman, being involved with Fairtrade is very helpful. They transport the coffee by lorry so we don’t have to carry it on our backs. We understand the coffee business now and Fairtrade has taught us how to improve the quality of our coffee. It also helps women sell their coffee, we have a good market now. Fairtrade is also giving women freedom of speech. When we are paid we buy what we want and don’t have to ask our husbands and we know how to budget for our household needs. We have tasted Cafédirect which has our own coffee in it. It was very delicious!’
Kisolo Boaz is chairperson of Nasufwa Co-op. ‘Fairtrade sets the standard. It is good for our community, especially the improved income and the coffee store we have just built.’
The co-op received its first Fairtrade premium in 2005. Combined with a donation from Equal Exchange, the premium was used to build a new coffee store that includes a small office and strong room as well as a dry, secure storage facility. In the future they hope to improve local roads and other infrastructure. First on the list is to build a small health post near the office where they can store and distribute first aid drugs for malaria and diarrhoea, which are very common, ‘so our farmers are not sick and we can produce more coffee’.
Kisolo is proud that local coffee farmers are impressed by what his co-op is achieving. ‘Farmers are knocking on our door, they want to be part of us,’ he says, before listing the benefits enjoyed by members:
- our price is fair
- our payment is prompt
- our members also recieve a second payment at the end of the season
- our field officers help members improve their farms
- we can fund further improvements with the Fairtrade premium
- our accounts are transparent
- members have a voice
There is scope for many development projects in the area. Villagers have only one safe, protected water supply – a pipe concreted into the hillside. The water runs away into a stream that is fed by a waterfall but as the water makes its way downstream it is contaminated by run-off from fields. But things will improve greatly when electricity comes to Jennipher’s village and surrounding ones in July 2007 when the new transmitter is due to be connected. Fairtrade Foundation 2007
Look for the FAIRTRADE Mark on products. It’s your guarantee that disavantaged farmers and workers in the developing world are getting a better deal.