Leveraging Green Carbon Finance for Smallholder Coffee Systems in Uganda

New Project Aims to Leverage Green Carbon Finance for Improved Agronomy in Smallholder Coffee Systems in Uganda

The African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI), along with OCP-Foundation, both of Morocco, launched the project “Green Carbon, Livelihoods and Resilience in Ugandan Smallholder Coffee Systems”.  The project relies on the active involvement of several partners such as Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Ankole Coffee Producers Co-operative Union Limited – ACPCU Ltd., National Agricultural Research Organization in Uganda – NARO, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morocco – UM6P, international NGO Producers Direct, and the Environmental Conservation Trust of Uganda – Ecotrust.

Between the 1st and the 4th of February 2023, researchers and practitioners from the partner institutions met in Kampala and Mbarara, Uganda, to deliberate on the project’s implementation and to share experiences on best practices in line with the project.

Key objectives of the project include increasing and then monetizing above-ground carbon in Robusta coffee (led by Ecotrust); farmer-led experimentation for improved coffee yield and quality (led by Producers Direct and APNI); market-responsive diversification of Robusta coffee systems (led by Producers Direct); and researching the potential for additional carbon credits created through adequate soil management practices (research jointly implemented by APNI, UM6P, and CAES of Makerere University).

The overarching goal of the project is to increase the incomes of ACPCU Ltd. farmers. The workshop, therefore, created a common vision, set expectations, and identified ways of aligning the project with ACPCU Ltd. objectives. ACPCU Ltd., headquartered in the Sheema Municipality, Uganda, is a Fair-Trade and Organic certified coffee processing and exporter organization that will host the project’s field activities. ACPCU Ltd. has grown from 10 co-operative societies to 26 in a period of just 15 years. The farmer-owned export coffee co-operative union has over 15,000 members from distinct, multi-ethnic communities living across the mountains of southwestern Uganda.

The participating institutions are hopeful that the project will lead to improved knowledge along the coffee value chain, address challenges related to climate change, and improve the production of not only farmers under ACPCU Ltd. but in the whole country – through the engagement of NARO. The project will also support graduate student research in the sector.

Perspectives that were shared by some project partners during the meeting point to a broad range of positive impacts that target coffee farmers within the region:

The project comes at a time when coffee production is stressed with issues of climate change and its farmers are in strong need of adaptation strategies. This new project has a component on tree planting, and this will largely support our efforts to avert the effects of climate change. It is also important because it focuses on diversifying incomes of farmers in a way that conserves the environment.Bamuhangaine Nicodemus, ACPCU Ltd.

Our project is designed to support farmers’ aspirations for their farms and to address the different shocks they often experience along the coffee value chain. It will also improve productivity, the quality of products, and farmers’ revenue. Each partner brings their unique experience on board which creates a special degree of synergy.” Dr. Kaushik Majumdar, Director General APNI.

This project will strengthen collaboration among farmers leading to improved markets and better agricultural practices. It will also accelerate the diversification of opportunities to strengthen the coffee system, and new agriculture systems that will increase revenues of the farmers resulting in improved livelihoods. With the project, Uganda will become an inspiring model for many other countries.”  Ms. Hassina Moukhariq, International Portfolio Lead at OCP Foundation.

Our work will help generate data to inform decision making and partnerships across the coffee value chain. It will also build a critical mass of people with better understanding of how best we can innovate to increase income for farmers.Dr. Ngonidzashe Chirinda, Professor of Sustainable Tropical Agriculture, UM6P.

Group photo at Kyangundu Grower’s Cooperative, Sheema District, Uganda



More About the Project Partners

The African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI) (https://apni.net) is a not-for-profit research and development organization headquartered in Benguérir, Morocco. Its mission is enhanced plant nutrition for a resilient and food-secure Africa. APNI has the mandate of developing and promoting the sustainable management of plant nutrients, thereby contributing towards the Green Revolution in Africa. To accomplish this goal, APNI addresses the major soil fertility, crop production, and food security challenges across the continent.

Recognized to be of public utility, OCP Foundation (www.ocpfoundation.org) is a Moroccan non-profit organization committed to sustainable human development in Morocco and in many other southern countries. Through an integrated approach built on social innovation, OCP Foundation strives to contribute to an inclusive socio-economic progress, skills development and knowledge dissemination. OCP Foundation uses its expertise and network of partners to co-build sustainable and impactful solutions that meet the priority needs of the communities it serves. Furthermore, the Foundation adopts an agile action model based on collective intelligence. The organization is active in different fields such as Education, Research & Development, and Social Innovation, and addresses pressing challenges such as resilience to climate change and sustainable agriculture. OCP Foundation implements a number of projects and promote innovative approaches in partnership with Moroccan institutions and other national and international organizations to stimulate and sustain the creation of shared value. Through its promotion of a knowledge ecosystem, OCP Foundation is also proud to support the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University and the Lycée Mohammed VI d’Excellence of Benguerir.

Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) (http://caes.mak.ac.ug) is one of the nine colleges of Makerere University. CAES has three schools including: Agricultural Sciences; Forestry, Environment and Geographical Sciences; and Food Technology, Nutrition and Biosystems Engineering. The mission is to advance training, knowledge generation and service delivery to enhance agricultural development, sustainable natural resource utilization and environmental management.

Ankole Coffee Producers Co-operative Union Limited (ACPCU Ltd.) (https://www.acpcultd.com) mainly consists of 17 co-operatives formed by different societies in the Greater Ankole i.e. Bushenyi, Mbarara, Ntungamo, Sheema, Ibanda and Ribirizi.  Coffee processes at the ACPCU Ltd. include buying hulled coffee from the farmers through their various co-operatives, grading this coffee, sorting it, packaging and finally exporting it. ACPCU Ltd. has grown from a humble beginning of just 10 co-operative societies into 17 in a period of just eight years. ACPCU Ltd. is currently a confident, farmer-owned export coffee co-operative union with over 15,000 members from distinct, multi-ethic communities stretching across the mountains of south-western Uganda; from the fertile slopes of Bushenyi to the dramatic heights and sparkling crater of Bunyaruguru speaking different languages but share a common voice: working together as progressive, forward-thinking farmers to market our coffee and improve our livelihoods. ACPCU Ltd. is directly involved with the improvement of quality of life for its members who are the farmers. It is currently handling 200 containers a year – 80% certified coffee and 85% robusta coffee. The main objective of ACPCU LTD is to market farmers’ coffee – providing access to better markets as a stronger combined team in a bid to better their livelihoods.

National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) (https://naro.go.ug) is an agency of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) with the mandate to coordinate and oversee all aspects of public-funded agricultural research in Uganda. Established as a body corporate by the National Agricultural Research Act of 2005, NARO comprises a Governing Council, a Secretariat and 16 Public Agricultural Research Institutes (PARIs) spread across the country. NARO is mandated to undertake research in all aspects of agriculture including crops, livestock, fisheries, forestry, agro-machinery, natural resources and socio-economics. Its vision is a market responsive, client-oriented, and demand-driven national agricultural research system.

Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (https://um6p.ma) is an institution oriented towards applied research and innovation with a focus on Africa. Located in the “Mohammed VI Green City” in Benguerir, near Marrakech, UM6P applies a “learning by doing” approach and develops sound partnerships with world-wide class universities, to promote leadership and training in focused research areas. The University aims to contribute to solving the many challenges Africa faces. It also aims to train the next generation of scientists and development practitioners that will help support the growth of Africa.

Producers Direct (https://producersdirect.org) is an award-winning organisation that is owned and led by smallholder farmers. Since 2009, we have been working to pioneer a new model – one centred on smallholders taking leadership and developing innovative solutions to the challenges they face and provide an opportunity for smallholders to transform their farms into sustainable businesses.

Environmental Conservation Trust of Uganda (ECOTRUST) (https://ecotrust.or.ug) is a not-for-profit conservation organization established in Uganda in 1999 to conserve biological diversity and enhance social welfare by promoting innovative and sustainable environmental management. We deliver conservation finance through innovative community structures and solutions that attract additional capital from private sector to invest in the green opportunities represented by landscape restoration as a business. We make innovative restoration investments that promote climate resilient solutions on a commercial basis and crowd-in private sector finance by playing an intermediary role and undertaking leadership in marketing environmental services. We have developed a valued niche in conservation finance drawing lessons from our flagship Trees for Global Benefit (TGB) program – a carbon-offsetting scheme under the Plan Vivo System.