The National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE) is working out a strategy to enhance financial benefits from farming by eliminating middlemen.
NUCAFE is advocating for the Farmer Ownership Model in order to increase farmers’ market value share by holding onto their coffee, taking charge of roles like upgrading quality and value before selling it, a case that seeks to help them save money lost to middlemen.
According to the body executive director Joseph Nkandu, the model being promoted is one of the current best options that can uplift coffee farmers since is about rooting for ways of increased productivity.
“The conventional middlemen who have been buying coffee from farmers in different forms such as flowers, green coffee berries on trees, red cherries, Kiboko or wet parchment should change that function to being service providers if Uganda is to have transformation in the rural areas and the country as a whole,” he said in an interview.
He explained that the farmer ownership model is about advocating for a change of the middleman role of buying the coffee before the farmer maximizes its value if farming is to fully benefit farmers out of poverty
According to the director, the conventional middleman function must change to service provision processors rather than commodity buying and taking possession. In this case all players; farmers and traders (middlemen) become winners and each gets equitable value for the effort.
“Therefore, instead of buying, trader-processors should simply paid processing or milling charges and then the processed product goes back to the farmer who can continue adding value by sorting, grading, roasting, grinding, branding among other value addition steps,” he said.
“NUCAFE is striving to disentangle farmers from the dilemma of making money for middlemen, it’s absurd that any coffee dealers benefits from the crop more than farmers who serve as the biggest stakeholders in the coffee value chain,” he said.
Currently, a kilo of kiboko goes for $0.60 (sh1,470) per kilogram and the graded coffee (before roasting) fetches $2 (sh4,950) per kilogram, whereas roasted and ground coffee costs $30 (sh73,500) per kilogram.
“The model is going to be taken to even higher level of value addition like facilitating farmers to penetrate the manufacturing nodes of the coffee value chain to boost domestic consumption,” Nkandu added.
He was optimistic that, farmer associations affiliated to NUCAFE will cause a critical mass for advocacy and self-empowerment into achieving more from their farms.
Launching the NUCAFE’s 2012-2016 plan recently, state minister for agriculture Dr. Zerubabel Nyiira promised that government would ensure that farmers have access to resistant varieties of diseases and multiplication of planting materials, a plan consonant with 2012/2013 national budget.
Out the implementing the 2008-2012 strategic plan, NUCAFE’s most notable achievements have been growing of the body’s membership from 125 farmer associations to 155.
The body also registered increase in volume of coffee marketed under the market linkage service from 630 tons in 2007 to over 800tons.