Andrew Rugasira: can coffee transform lives in Africa?

From Global development | The Guardian Sat Feb 16 2013, 19:04:05

In 2003, Andrew Rugasira had a vision of empowering farmers in his native Uganda by enabling them to produce and sell coffee direct to British supermarkets. So has his idea worked?

How can you tell when a story has ended? If it is an African story, such as the one Andrew Rugasira has to tell, closure is never likely to be satisfying or clear cut. Beginnings are more straightforward.

Rugasira's once-upon-a-time moment came nearly a decade ago, when he had a vision to start a coffee company in his native Uganda. He would, he determined, become the first African to collect and roast and market and sell quality coffee direct to British supermarkets. And, by that example, he would demonstrate his certain beliefs: that it was trade, not aid, that transformed communities and that change was never an imposed solution, but a positive choice made by those whose lives would be most affected by it.

The place Rugasira chose to base his coffee company, to start that story, the Rwenzori mountains - the Mountains of the Moon - looked a lot like a blank page. The lives of the 14,000 subsistence farmers who lived high above the town of Kasese, right on the war-torn border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, had never been the stuff of written record. Their narratives were of survival rather than progress. Ambition meant getting through the next day and the next week, in thrall as they were to the suddenly shifting front lines of brutal cross-border conflict and the vagaries of farming a little scrap of land without decent tools or any technology, without transport or access to market, barely growing enough to feed themselves and their children, waiting for agents or middlemen to pass through and buy some coffee beans, maybe soon, maybe not, and never for a price that seemed fair.

[view whole blog post ]
 See More    |     Report Abuse

People and Organizations:


You might also be interested in the following news stories:

Kenya:   Dear Western Kenya, It Is Time to Quit Sugar for Other Ventures (opinion)
The Nation
28 August 2015

Uganda cannot be stopped from selling its sugar to Kenya because the EAC is legally a single market courtesy of the Common Market Protocol of November 2009. Local cane farmers may have to look for ... [read more]

Uganda:   Ministry Launches Tool to Monitor Private Health Providers (news)
The Independent
27 August 2015

Owing to the implications of offering poor quality health services including avoidable deaths, the Ministry of Health has launched a Self-Regulatory Quality Improvement System (SQIS), a tool that can ... [read more]

Uganda:   Government Should Harmonise Control Fees Structure (editorial)
The Monitor
28 August 2015

Education ministry's admission that it has no control over schools increasing fees due to the meagre government contribution to government-aided and private schools is absurd. First, this is not only ... [read more]



blogAfrica is allAfrica.com's platform to help you keep an ear on the African blogosphere. We draw diverse voices from around the world who post regularly and insightfully about African issues. Bloggers, submit your blog's rss-feed!


Today's Featured News
Mozambique Ruling Party Faces Tough Contest

Renamo supporters: Ruling Frelimo faces a stern challenge at Wednesday's polls from...

Surge in Central African Republic Violence

African Union troops in Bangui (file photo): The UN has expressed alarm...

Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana Get Crucial Wins

Asamoah Gyan of Ghana (file photo): The Super Eagles have boosted their...