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How a Ugandan company is using blockchain to boost farmers fortunes by tracing coffee from farms to stores

A coffee farmer in Uganda
  • Uganda predominantly cultivates the robusta variety but also has extensive fields of arabica trees.
  • Carico Café Connoisseur has started using blockchain, the technology to certify shipments of coffee.
  • The company says the move could help to boost farmers’ incomes, as consumers are usually prepared to pay more for goods that can be traced back to their origins.

Uganda is Africa’s largest coffee exporter followed by Ethiopia, according to the International Coffee Organisation, and has some of the world’s highest quality beans.

The country predominantly cultivates the robusta variety but also has extensive fields of arabica trees.

A Ugandan company now wants its consumers to appreciate every bean of coffee and get to appreciate its entire journey from the farm to their cup.

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“The idea is to give the consumer an appreciation of what happens on the journey and also to ensure that there are more linkages with the farmer,” Carico Café Connoisseur CEO Mwambu Wanendeya said, as quoted by Reuters.

Carico Café Connoisseur has started using blockchain, the technology to certify shipments of coffee to try to meet growing demand from consumers for more information about where products have come from.

Traceability is important because people are increasingly concerned that ... farmers get rewarded for their work.” Said Wanendeya.

The technology captures every step of the beans’ journey - from when farmers drop them off at collection centres to warehousing, inspection by regulators and shipping - is recorded.

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The company then provides consumers with information such as the type of coffee bean, the year it was harvested, and where it was grown.

Carico Café Connoisseur says the move could help to boost farmers’ incomes, as consumers are usually prepared to pay more for goods that can be traced back to their origins. Wanendeya predicted the innovation could boost farmers’ incomes by 10 percent.

“Consumers are willing to pay more if they can know where exactly the coffee is coming from,” he said.

The blockchain certification means consumers can trace the coffee’s journey by using their smartphones to scan the product’s QR codes or via the certification site provenance.org.

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Mr Wanendeya told Reuters a blockchain-certified shipment of one of its coffee products, Bugisu Blue, arrived in South Africa last month but declined to give the size of the shipment, only saying it was several tonnes.

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