Oliva Kishero is the treasurer of Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative.
Oliva regularly visits women farmers in other coffee societies. Gradually, she says, men are beginning to admire those homes with empowered women. In Uganda, men traditionally take all the money – and do all the talking. Gumutindo’s policy, however, states that 50 per cent of all seats on committees should be taken by women.
Oliva first encountered Gumutindo in 1998. ‘Then we were just individual farmers. In 2000 we joined together as a society’ Oliva recalls. ‘Andy Carlton from Twin Trading, a U.K fair trade organization, came here and talked to people about empowerment. Men farmers began to see the value of women – and women began to join the society and elect women to the committee. Now we have a committee … we have transparency … we have democracy. Our society empowers women. Here in Uganda, women are not involved in decision-making. Women understand quality … we are hard-working. But much more effort is needed to train our women and men together to understand this’.
Another woman, Lakeli Namona, says when women are organised and can sell their coffee in bulk, they get more money and their lives improve. ‘If you sell alone you have no bargaining power, but with bulk you have a big voice to bargain with. In the Gumutindo Cooperative, farmers are organised and get a fair price’.
Trade Aid purchases coffee from the Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative and on-sells to NZ roasters for sale in fair trade blends across the country.