From Bean to Cup: Exploring the coffee value chain case in Uganda

March 2019

In February the 2018 cohort of the Swedish Institute Programme for Africa (SIMP Africa) concluded its three-module programme on sustainable business and responsible leadership in Uganda.  The SIMP programmes are fantastic examples of how Sweden exports its knowledge on sustainability and Enact is proud to have been involved with them for the last 10 years, building the programmes with the Swedish Institute and running them on the ground. 

The programme team returned from Uganda just over a week ago, yet it is still dreaming of Ugandan coffee from bean to cup. The country is the second largest exporter of coffee in Africa and constitutes about 7% of global Robusta production, which makes coffee a major contributor to Uganda’s GDP.  

Over the course of three days the participants, 25 African business leaders, were immersed in the local coffee value chain through talks, visits and meetings with stakeholders.  

Learning about sustainable coffee farming first-hand 

The group started off by visiting a coffee farm to learn about growing coffee, climate change risks, sustainable farming practices, and workers’ issues. The second stop was a visit to a large-scale coffee processing facility owned by Kyagalanyi Coffee – Uganda’s largest coffee exporter. The chief agronomist, quality managers and production staff gave the participants first-hand insight into Kyagalanyi Coffee’s operations and sustainability programmes.

Factory visit at Kyagalanyi Coffee 

The group also took part in a stakeholder dialogue with Rainforest Alliance/UTZ*, a leader in coffee certifications; NUCAFE, the largest farmer-driven coffee association in the country; and the Ugandan Coffee Development Authority. This gave the participants the chance to better understand the perspectives and interactions between different actors in the coffee value chain. The dialogue concluded with the group presenting recommendations to the Ugandan Coffee Development Authority on topics such as climate change, sustainable farming, economic empowerment, working conditions, access to finance, and innovation.  

The group wrapped up the 3-day experience with exclusive coffee cupping, blind tasting, and a lecture on the art of roasting and brewing given by the award-winning head barista at Café Pap. This coffee shop in Kampala works closely with female farmers, offers specialty single origin coffee beans, and promotes coffee drinking culture in the capital.  

Coffee cupping at Café Pap in Kampala 

The Ugandan coffee value chain case was a testament to the intricacies of the global coffee sector and the complexity of the sustainability challenges it faces. The programme participants were able to apply the knowledge on sustainability and responsible leadership they had acquired over the past eight months through the Swedish Institute Management Programme.    

We are proud to be the knowledge partner of the Swedish Institute, developing sustainable business training programmes in northern Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia. 

*Author’s note: Rainforest Alliance and UTZ have recently merged and are in the process of transitioning to a joint certification scheme.