A FAIR TRADE CITY TWINS WITH A FARMERS’ NETWORK IN WESTERN UGANDA

BRIGHTON AND HOVE

A FAIR TRADE CITY TWINS WITH A FARMERS’ NETWORK IN WESTERN UGANDA

The Fairtrade City of Brighton and Hove has an impressive range of local shops and businesses which actively support Fair Trade partnerships with producers around the world. Fair Trade Brighton and Hove are proud of our innovative approach to promoting Fair Trade across the city. We are delighted to be twinning with the Rwenzori Sustainable Trade Centre (RSTC) in Western Uganda which works with Fairtrade coffee, cocoa and cotton farmers to facilitate their trade links with premium and fully traceable end. We aim to support the promotion of the consumption of Fair Trade products by conscious consumers in our great city. RSTC is promoting Business to Business relationships (B2B) and looks forward to forging partnerships with Brighton-based coffee roasters.

The RWENZORI SUSTAINABLE TRADE CENTRE (RSTC) Western Uganda

RSTC’s Vision Statement, “Improving Livelihoods through Sustainable Trade”.
RSTC’s Mission, “Creating a viable community, cooperative businesses and sustainable social development.” Sustainable cooperatives, competitive trade and world class products and services

About RSTC: Rwenzori Sustainable Trade Centre (RSTC) is a not-for-profit company with a team on the ground since 2008 aiming to take forward earlier donor supported work in the communities. Parents from 12 hard-to-reach school communities have received support to engage in the trade of locally grown cash crops like coffee, cocoa, and cotton and craft making as well as local trading and income generating activities all year round.

RSTC works in the 4 Rwenzori Districts of Bundibugyo, Kabarole, Bunyangabu and Kasese. The Rwenzori region has suffered a lot of border and tribal conflicts for many years, causing destruction and instability in the area. The effects have been far-reaching. To add to this, regional schools were few and inaccessible to the majority of the community members due to tough, mountainous terrain.

RSTC has achieved over a decade of building long-standing relationships based on trust and hard work with linked cooperatives to help them achieve excellence and mobilise communities across the Rwenzori Mountains to organise and thrive. Together they work to help the hard-working men and women within the cooperatives to produce the best, premium products whilst supporting and monitoring social change to achieve better lives for families and their communities. Cooperative workers say “We are farmers and producers – working diligently together for the best outcomes we can deliver for our families and communities. ”All RSTC’s Clients can be assured of world-beating levels of traceability and impact information: we know down to the last kilo which farmers contribute to each container we ship and the impact on families”.

RSTC’s starting point is with community primary schools where it works directly with Head Teachers to monitor food scarcity and hunger, school-material needs, school attendance as well as the progress of children in their care. Rwenzori Sustainable Trade Centre supports parents in 12 communities to ensure that their children go to, stay in and finish school.

RSTC takes steps to make sure cooperatives are well financed, organised, connected and products are marketed to ensure they achieve the best possible outcomes.

  • Pre-financing: RSTC provides credit lines to facilitate production and logistics activities.
  • Support for the systems and structures that help producers manage their operations more formally and professionally including training cooperative managers, farmer Board members and support staff in business and financial management.
  • Linking between Rwenzori producer groups, associations and cooperatives to other key stakeholders that can help them to advance.
  • Support on ensuring compliance with certification standards, regulatory laws, and buyers’ ethical policies
  • Guidance on monitoring and supporting the improvement and quality of all products to be able to compete in the international market
  • Marketing products both locally and internationally

Over the years RSTC has helped support the formation of Co-operatives now exporting certified Fairtrade and organic coffee and cocoa, and Fairtrade certified cotton. A percentage of all Fairtrade Social Premiums earned through community cooperative produce sales goes to the nearest primary schools. In addition, all co-operative members sign a No Child Labour Pledge at the start of the year.

RSTC support has also helped women to organise in Associations, take credits and engage in the local trade of surplus vegetables and staples as additional income. RSTC is also exceptionally proud of the global sales of high quality baskets and crafts made by women’s’ organisations and how this is helping women earn independence, status and more income to meet their family’s needs, especially their children and also to reduce levels of domestic violence.

To bring further “Value-added” the Bird Friendly Certification initiative E. Africa has been started at the Rwenzori Sustainable Trade Centre (RSTC), Uganda to look at the feasibility of attaining Bird Friendly Certification for local, cooperative-grown coffee against criteria set by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre (SMBC). For Cocoa work by the SMBC and the RSPB on standards is ongoing.    Our chosen local cooperatives are located within the Bundibugyo region the foothills and mountains which lead to the Semuliki National Park. The National Park is run by Uganda Wildlife Authority and visited by numerous tour groups for its stunning scenery and unique wealth in bird species and other wildlife. The Bird Friendly Certification Initiative plans to not only improve ecosystems to increase bird populations and species number but also has an aim of educating and equipping local communities with the means for switching to alternative fuel sources including a Solar Power initiative and use of non-wood fuel bricks for cooking. In addition, the initiative has plans for community run Eco-tourism with construction of an eco-lodge and training for local youth in running tourist groups: walks, mountain experiences, wildlife spotting.

RSTC is pioneering new levels of assurance on climate and conservation and is the is the first social enterprise in Uganda to have achieved UN status Carbon Neutral Operations and has gained Carbon Neutral Certification through passing UN Carbon Neutral criteria.