Volcafe wins Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Standard-Setter Award

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Kyagalanyi Coffee, Volcafe’s subsidiary in Uganda, has been presented with a Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Standard-Setter Award. The award recognises companies who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to sustainability, improving livelihoods and conserving forests all around the world. It was received by Dr. Anneke Fermont, who leads the sustainability department at Kyagalanyi Coffee and is an industry representative on the UTZ Standards Committee, at the Rainforest Alliance’s 31st Spring Gala on May 9 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Uganda’s coffee is grown by more than one million smallholder farmers and is often their most important source of income—but Ugandan coffee yields are among the lowest in the world. Kyagalanyi Coffee has been working closely with colleagues from the UTZ certification programme—and with the Rainforest Alliance—to address these issues through sustainable farming methods.

Kyagalanyi works with over 14,500 UTZ and/or Rainforest Alliance certified households that produce Arabica coffee. The company has developed a strong farmer support programme, which has increased coffee yields and income for these families by 35-45% in West Nile and 60-70% in Mt. Elgon. Key elements include a focus on continuous improvement and a range of innovative approaches to sustainably improve coffee production, work with youth, encourage joint decision making within households and promote the use of mobile money.

This approach is complemented by the in-house Volcafe Way responsible sourcing programme, which is consciously built around profit for coffee farmers. It has one clear aim: to ensure that farmers make money and thereby incentivise future generations to carry on the family tradition. Additionally, Kyagalanyi is a vocal leader in the effort to reduce child labour on coffee farms in West Nile. As part of the UTZ Sector Partnership programme, Kyagalanyi and its partners are expanding this work to identify cost-efficient strategies to eradicate child labour in the coffee value chain.

“The kind of transformational, global work the Rainforest Alliance undertakes would not be possible without the partnerships we have established with forward-thinking, progressive companies,” said Han de Groot, CEO of the Rainforest Alliance. “The individuals, communities, and businesses we have highlighted are working to address the significant and related challenges of climate change, rural poverty, and biodiversity loss. Their work has resulted in real changes on the ground, and is helping to improve conditions for farmers and forest communities.”