KNCU - Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union
KNCU was founded in 1925 as KNPA (Kilimanjaro Native Planters Association) although it was dissolved and reincorporated in 1933 with its current name Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union, KNPA was re-registered as KNCU LTD with 11 affiliated primary cooperative societies. Currently, the cooperative has 93 primary cooperative “societies” in which 67 are active coffee suppliers for KNCU. In total, there are 75,000 farmer members growing and selling coffees through the cooperative.
Quality is a primary focus of KNCU. The Union believes that small-scale farming is the best way to achieve the highest quality coffee. Most of the members’ plots are between 0.5 and 1.5 acres per family, at altitudes of 1,000-2,000 meters above sea level. The core function of the Union is to “coordinate, organize and education farmers on the production of quality and increased quantity of coffee.” In 2005, KNCU began a Coffee Quality Improvement Program with the aim of extending knowledge and expertise to create a better product and thereby receive a better price for its members. KNCU helps members process the grains and market the coffee abroad.
In more recent years, KNCU has concentrated efforts on training groups of producers in organic production of coffee. Slowly but surely, organic techniques are making their way throughout the primary societies; new groups are certified each year.
The Union has also engaged in a number of projects aimed at generating additional income and deepening the Fair Trade connection with importers and consumers of KNCU coffee.
At its core, the coffee production of KNCU and its farmers depends greatly on the successful administration and communication of its many primary cooperative societies. Capacity building to improve the functioning of the societies is a primary and indispensable service KNCU offers to its members. Since obtaining Fair Trade certification in 1993, community development premiums have allowed members to establish a collective educational fund for scholarships to the farmers’ children and later, to build and operate schools, to finance the organic transition of seven primary societies, to help finance the Quality Improvement Program, to grow a coffee nursery, and finally, to help finance a cooperative bank allowing producers to obtain loads and create savings and credit programs. KNCU is most definitely a success story when it comes to Fair Trade!
I am very happy with what I get. I know our customers there at Fair Trade market love our coffee and buy our product at the highest price, but we would like to have more money from them. ”
Farmer Savings Bank
KNCU formed the Kilimanjaro Cooperative Bank (KCB), which enables members to access loans and a number of other banking services.
Members voluntarily contribute to an education fund that is used to build and operate schools for farmers' children. KNCU also provides scholarships for members' children.
Organic Certification and Fermentation Tanks
KNCU's farmers do not apply chemicals, and have invested in an organic production program to transition to organic certification. Farmers also receive training on sustainable agricultural techniques, such as using local plants for insect and pest control. The co-op has also purchased fermentation tanks for its organic producers. KNCU has created training programs that help members to improve the quality and increase the yield of their crops.