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Gorilla Conservation Coffee gets a Distributor in UK

Gorilla Conservation Coffee is a social enterprise of Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), a nonprofit award-winning NGO founded by Dr. Gladys Kalema- Zikusoka, who was the first Veterinary Officer of the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Gorilla Conservation Coffee was launched after Dr. Gladys visited farmers living adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home to half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. Here she learned that the farmers were not being given a fair price for their coffee and were struggling hard to survive, forcing them to use the national park to meet their basic family needs for food, fuel wood and other resources for survival.

Gorilla Conservation Coffee buys coffee at a premium price of $0.50 per kilo above the market price from 500 coffee farmers living next to Bwindi and supports them through training in sustainable coffee farming and processing. This helps to improve the coffee quality and increased production yield.

Gorilla Conservation Coffee further helps farmers by processing the coffee, then roasts and packs it and sells it in more than 60 outlets around the world. Supporting local farmers helps to protect the endangered mountain gorillas and their fragile habitat.

We are excited to let you know that we have extended our distribution in United Kingdom, with Moneyrow Beans supporting and distributing our sustainable single origin coffee.

Moneyrow Beans was founded by Vicky Weddell, a coffee enthusiast who is passionate about great coffee and supporting the local and international coffee community.

In her message to the new distributor, Dr Gladys notes that “We are excited to have our first distributor for Gorilla Conservation Coffee in the UK through this partnership with Moneyrow Beans. This will enable people in the UK to protect the gorillas by buying coffee from farmers around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, particularly important in this critical time of the COVID-19 pandemic when tourists are not able to travel to Uganda to visit the gorillas and support the local communities.”

‘I am very proud and excited to bring this great coffee to the UK and to support the important work of Gorilla Conservation Coffee and CTPH’, Vicky said upon receiving a shipment from Gorilla Conservation Coffee.

To make an order please write to Vicky (info@moneyrowbeans.com) and support this important cause.

For more information, please visit gccoffee.org/

 

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Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka’s Gorilla Conservation Coffee expands to new markets while protecting the endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

By by  Growth Africa

In 2017, we had the pleasure of talking to Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, Founder, Gorilla Conservation Coffee. She was going through the Growth Africa Accelerator programme in Uganda and we were inspired by how she had collaborated with farmers in Bwindi to train them on how to grow and process quality coffee while protecting the mountain gorillas that dwell in the Bwindi Impenetrable forest.

We caught up with Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka recently to find out more about the growth and impact of Gorilla Conservation Coffee as well as their expansion to new markets and what is in store for the future.

 Update on Gorilla Conservation Coffee

Back then, Gorilla Conservation Coffee was engaging 75 farmers and now the number of farmers has grown to 500. They have embraced a model farmer network with support from Solidaridad where 25 model farmers each mentor 20 farmers. The number of women farmers being engaged has also grown from only 5 women in 2017 to 120 women, a good number of which are women youth coffee farmers, which was not the case before. To extend the impact in the community, Gorilla Conservation Coffee is also working with reformed poachers who have handed their tools to the Uganda Wildlife Authority and have embraced coffee farming.

Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka with some of the coffee farmers in Bwindi area

How they overcame the challenge of not having a major market for green coffee

The biggest challenge they faced in 2017 was not being able to sell green coffee at a high price because most customers were more willing to buy roasted branded coffee at a high price as compared to the green coffee, which is more available on the market. However, Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka says they have made great progress in that area,

“One thing GrowthAfrica taught us was to really understand your customer so that you are able to realise the full potential of your business. We have been able to segment our customers and find those who are willing to buy green coffee at a high price. We now have a market in America. The customers buy the green coffee then and roast it and co-brand it in America and New Zealand as Gorilla Conservation Coffee.”

They have also had interest from a leading roaster in Holland and there is a lady who is hoping to market the coffee in different countries. What made the difference is they have found the right specialty roasters and traders who understand the story behind the coffee, the quality of it and they are willing to buy it at a higher price.

Current Challenges

The biggest challenge Gorilla Conservation Coffee faces now is not being able to satisfy the demand for their coffee which is higher than the supply.

“Now that we have created a market and built a strong brand that people know about, we do not have enough working capital to be able to buy coffee from farmers so that we satisfy the growing market.”

They not only sell their coffee in Uganda but also in America, New Zealand, South Africa, Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Kenya.  Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka added that they are currently looking for affordable financing so that they have working capital to buy coffee from the farmers and satisfy the demand.

Another major challenge they are facing is having to compete with brands that put gorillas on their packaging, yet they are not working with gorillas and farming communities adjacent to gorilla habitats. She admits that these brands confuse the market and there is need to differentiate themselves from them. To address this, they have partnered with Solidaridad on a plan to get special certification for coffee brands that support gorilla conservation.

 Global Recognition

Gorilla Conservation Coffee has received a lot of global recognition since 2017. In 2018, Coffee Review ranked them among the top 30 coffees in the world giving them a total of 92 points. That raised their profile globally and created opportunities for them to get more orders because the coffee is good and the story behind the coffee is great.

They have also grown their number of outlets from 30 to 60. The Gorilla Conservation Café in Entebbe is very popular especially among tourists and expatriates who get to sample the coffee before they buy. The café has experienced baristas and Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka noted that more Ugandans are drinking coffee which has helped them create a community around the coffee.

Dr. Gladys and team at Uganda’s first Gorilla Conservation Cafe in Entebbe

In September 2017, the UNEP Switch Africa Green (SAG) awarded Gorilla Conservation Coffee a Seed Award Winner. As part of the award prize, they got help in perfecting their business plan and they were put in contact with potential partner organisations.

In 2018, Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka was the second African to win the Sierra Club Earthcare Award, which has only been won before by Prof. Wangari Maathai. She won the award in recognition of her unique approach to environmental conservation.

In August 2019, they emerged 2nd at the Startup Africa Road Trip Awards. This award opened up an opportunity to visit Italy in 2020 where they will meet potential buyers and investors.

In February 2020, Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka’s Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) which created the Gorilla Conservation Coffee social enterprise won the prestigious St. Andrews Prize for the Environment in recognition of their significant contributions to environmental issues and concerns through the One Health approach with a focus on sustainability, conservation, biodiversity and community development.

Conservation Through Public Health was announced the 2020 St. Andrews Prize for the Environment winner

The winning prize of USD 100,000 from the award will enable Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) to replicate a community-based health and conservation model in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Impact from the GrowthAfrica Accelerator

Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka was motivated to join the GrowthAfrica Accelerator back in 2017 because she wanted to get better at running the business and learn how to attract investors.

“At the time, we only had one investor, World Wildlife Fund for Nature Switzerland and we wanted to connect with more potential investors. We liked the fact that GrowthAfrica makes you more prepared for investors and shares practical tips on how to attract the right impact investors.”

She also appreciated the recognition that GrowthAfrica has given them through profiling them and raising awareness on Gorilla Conservation Coffee saying it has contributed to building their brand and attracting support.

GrowthAfrica is also supporting them in registering as a B-Corp company which Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka admits will help to raise their profile in America.

What’s in the future?

The future is bright for Gorilla Conservation Coffee. They plan to engage as many farmers as possible around the Bwindi area and strengthen tracking along their triple bottom line, which is social impact, financial impact and environmental impact including reduction in poaching. They are also looking into scaling to other countries especially countries with communities that have gorilla habitats like Rwanda, Cameroon and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Related articles: https://growthafrica.com/coffee-farming-saving-mountain-gorillas-uganda/

https://growthafrica.com/disruptive-women-led-ventures-africa-meet-dr-gladys-kalema-zikusoka/

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From human-wildlife conflicts to a human-gorilla friendship

Ruhondeza, the gorilla that lives on in the hearts and minds of the Bwindi community

The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a national park in Uganda, an Important Bird & Biodiversity Area, and an Eastern Afromontane Key Biodiversity Area. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, through a small grant facilitated by BirdLife International, supports Conservation Through Public Health in their effort to reduce human-gorilla conflicts in and around the park, and avoid the transmission of diseases. This story describes how a potential drama turned into a unique friendship between local people and a legendary animal…

By Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka – Founder and CEO, Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH)

I have been working with mountain gorillas since 1994, when there were only two gorilla groups called Mubare and Katendegyere, habituated for tourism at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Now 25 years later, there are 17 gorilla groups habituated for tourism. Mubare gorilla group was headed by the silverback Ruhondeza, given that name because he liked “sleeping a lot”. Though Ruhondeza was smaller than the other silverbacks, he had the largest number of adult female gorillas to himself and was calmer than the Katendegyere gorilla group and therefore easier to habituate.

Katendegyere gorilla group eventually reduced in size, because there were too many males and only one female, and two years later the lead silverback, Mugurusi, meaning “old man” and named because he was very old when habituation began, eventually died of heart and kidney failure. I was called to check on Mugurusi when he could no longer keep up with the group and did a post-mortem on him a few days later. Fortunately, he did not have an infectious disease, however, a few months later his group developed scabies, a highly contagious skin disease more commonly known in animals as sarcoptic mange. This resulted in the death of the infant and sickness in the rest of the gorillas that only recovered after we gave Ivermectin anti parasitic treatments. The scabies was ultimately traced to people living around the national park who have inadequate access to basic health and other social services.


Kanyonyi, son of Ruhondeza © CTPH

In 2012, Ruhondeza also became too old, and he eventually could not keep up with the rest of his group. The Mubare gorilla group left him in search of food and he decided to settle outside the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in community land. When the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) park management called Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) to look into the possibility of translocating Ruhondeza back to the safety of the forest, we checked on him and saw that he was really settled and even if we moved him back, he would likely return to community land. We spoke to our Village Health and Conservation Teams (VHCTs), volunteers who liaise between CTPH and their community, about tolerating Ruhondeza in the village – particularly since his calm and accommodating nature had enabled gorilla tourism to begin in 1993, changing the lives and future for many people in the Bwindi community for ever. In the meeting the VHCTs assured us that even when their own elderly become very weak, they look after them, so why should this not apply to Ruhondeza as well?.

This resulted in Ruhondeza being accepted in the Bwindi community where they tolerated him eating banana plants or the occasional coffee berry. When the fateful day came and Ruhondeza was laid to rest, the Bwindi community members all came to pay their last respects to a legend. To this day he is remembered through the Ruhondeza village walk and other community experiences and also through his son, Kanyonyi, who took over the Mubare Gorilla Group after he died. CTPH named the first blend of our Gorilla Conservation Coffee after him.

Ruhondeza truly signifies how far conservation efforts have paid off in Bwindi, and that true friendship between people and wild animals is, indeed, possible.

Watch Dr. Gladys Kalema Zikusoka talk more about how CTPH is working with local farmers to reduce threats to Endangered mountain gorillas around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park KBA 

BirdLife International runs the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) investment in the Eastern Afromontane Hotspot (2012 -2019). See the interactive map of all projects implemented under the CEPF Eastern Afromontane Hotspot programme here.

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation. More information on the CEPF can be found at www.cepf.net.

Please see original article as shared by Birdlife International Africa.

Gorilla Conservation pioneer and social entrepreneur, Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, acknowledged in new National Geographic film

National Geographic’s new documentary, which highlights mothers working in wildlife conservation and more. National Geographic has just launched a new documentary film, Women of Impact: Changing the World, which features prominent conservationists who discuss how they’ve shared their careers with their children and inspired them to be passionate about preserving wildlife, too. One of those featured is the inspirational Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, a wildlife veterinarian in Uganda, conservation biologist,  founder of Conservation Through Public Health and Gorilla Conservation Coffee.

Women of Impact: Changing the World, narrated by Julianna Margulies, is just one of many inspiring projects to come from National Geographic lately showcasing the groundbreaking work of trailblazing women all across the globe. Earlier this month, for instance, National Geographic released a stunning book containing 450 striking photographs from the magazine’s archives, which Susan Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of National Geographic Magazine, which serves as a “visual history of women.” The November 2019 issue of National Geographic Magazine is also dedicated to this theme as it’s “exclusively written and photographed by women.” In an editor’s letter, Goldberg says the issue aims to bring more women’s lives into the light — and more women’s voices into the conversation.”

Speaking about being featured in this special new documentary film, Dr Gladys said:

“I am greatly honored to be featured among other women explorers in the National Geographic film: Women of Impact: Changing the World airing this October. It is wonderful that our work at Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) with the mountain gorillas and local communities of Bwindi was featured in the documentary where our efforts to empower women are resulting in positive outcomes for conservation. We plan to also empower women coffee farmers through our Gorilla Conservation Coffee impact enterprise.”

To view the full documentary and trailer, click on the links below:

https://rumpus.natgeonetworks.com/_5lxoQMw4MVcJtR

https://rumpus.natgeonetworks.com/_YAx1gNdU4VIJQR

About Dr Gladys

Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka is a wildlife veterinarian and conservationist working with the endangered mountain gorillas of East Africa. After graduating from the University of London, she established the first veterinary department in the Uganda Wildlife Authority. She also led a team that investigated the first scabies outbreak in mountain gorillas that resulted in the death of an infant and sickness in the rest of the affected gorilla groups. This outbreak was eventually traced back to the people living around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park who have inadequate access to health care and other needs. This led her to establish Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), a grassroots NGO and nonprofit that promotes coexistence of people, gorillas and other wildlife through addressing human and wildlife health together and improving alternative livelihoods in communities sharing their habitats with gorillas. Funding from National Geographic is enabling CTPH to expand this award-winning model to additional parishes around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and other protected areas in Africa. Through her work, Kalema-Zikusoka is also advocating for integrated approaches that balance human needs with conservation concerns.

Written by Lionesses of Africa

November 3,  2019

Coffee helps protect Uganda’s endangered mountain gorillas

Poor communities in Bwindi national park have long depended on what the forest can provide. But with gorillas under threat, coffee now offers a more sustainable living.  

Robert Byarugaba, now 45, began poaching with his father in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest at just eight years old.

“My dad would force me to follow him to go in the park because I was his only son,” Byarugaba says. “We poached and hunted from Monday to Sunday. Every day we would be in the forest.”

The father and son weren’t the only ones, there were many hunters who combed the forest for bushpigs, antelopes, goats, and sometimes gorillas. The great apes might be killed to feed local families, or their meat and body parts could fetch high sums on the market for bush meat or traditional medicine.

Read more: Dian Fossey: Gorilla researcher in the mist

Uganda is home to almost half of the world’s estimated 1,000 surviving mountain gorillas. In 1991, when the primates’ population fell to an estimated 300 animals, the Ugandan government made Bwindi a national park. That meant increased protection and regulation of access to the park. But many poachers continued to hunt all the same because their livelihoods depended on it.

Read more: Gorilla population in Africa rises

After five years, Byarugaba gave up poaching and began to grow coffee, but he couldn’t sell enough to make a living and supplemented his income taking tourists bird spotting in the forest.

Robert Byarugaba, poacher turned coffee farmer in Uganda's Bwindi forestRobert Byarugaba began poaching with his father when he was just eight years old

Since 2017, that’s changed. Thanks to the work of Gorilla Conservation Coffee, Byarugaba says he now makes a reliable living from his coffee plantation. The social enterprise advises coffee growers and buys their crop, so they don’t have to resort to pillaging the forest.

Read more: The wilderness and the war

Making coffee profitable

The project was started by Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka. A wildlife veterinarian, she first came to Bwindi in 1994 and was struck by the poverty blighting villagers in the national park. Later, she founded the NGO Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) to tackle disease transmission between humans and wildlife. Tracking gorillas through the forest, she would cross coffee farms. That got her thinking.

Read more:  10 facts you probably didn’t know about great apes

Not all coffee farmers were supplementing their meagre income with legal occupations like bird spotting. “We found that some of them were poachers and were going into the forest in order to just get food to feed their families and firewood to cook, and they didn’t have enough money to buy meat,” Kalema-Zikusoka says.

Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, wildlife veterinarian and founder of Gorilla Conservation CoffeeVeterinarian Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka realized that to protect gorillas, people had to be lifted out of poverty

One farmer who fitted that profile was Safari Joseph. He began growing coffee in 2007 but like Byarugaba, for many years he didn’t make enough from it to live on. He got together with others in his community to find a solution. “Our challenge was that when we started coffee growing, our coffee had no market,” he says.

“That’s when we went to Dr. Gladys and convinced her to work with us and market our coffee.” She said yes, on the condition that they stop poaching. In 2015, Kalema-Zikusoka founded Gorilla Conservation Coffee.

Today, the brand supplies shops in Uganda, Kenya, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. It currently pays the equivalent of €0.31 ($0.34) for a kilo of red coffee cherries, almost twice the regular market price. The 500 farmers benefiting from these premium prices are members of the Bwindi Coffee Growers Cooperative, to which Joseph serves as secretary.

Safari Joseph and Sanyu Kate of the Bwindi Coffee Farmers Collective in Uganda Safari Joseph and fellow member of the Bwindi Coffee Farmers Cooperative, Sanyu Kate

Musiimenta Allen, 32, oversees compliance for the cooperative, making sure its members adhere to practices that protect the forest. She is also one of two women on its committee — a position she uses to ensure the voice of female coffee farmers is heard.

Since her husband died in 2014, Allen has had to support herself and her two boys from her coffee plantation. She used to depend on the forest for daily essentials like firewood, but since joining the cooperative in 2016, she can afford to buy firewood instead.

Read more: Can renewable energy save Uganda’s Rwenzori glacier?

Struggling with cash flows and pests

Despite the gorilla logo that distinguishes Allen’s coffee on supermarket shelves, neighborly relations with the endangered primates aren’t always smooth. Occasionally, they invade her farm and destroy her crops. She also wishes Gorilla Conservation Coffee could provide its farmers with loans so they could increase production. “Sometimes I want to grow more coffee but I don’t have [enough] money,” Allen says.

Musimenta Allen of the Bwindi Coffee Farmers Cooperative, Uganda Musimenta Allen would like to be able to invest more money in her coffee plantation

And Joseph is concerned that Gorilla Conservation Coffee cannot always afford to buy all the coffee from its farmers, leaving them frustrated.

Kalema-Zikusoka concedes this is a problem. Gorilla Conservation Coffee relies on donor funding to buy coffee up-front and cut out the middlemen. But that means it doesn’t always have the cash to buy as much coffee as it could sell. “Because we don’t have enough money to buy coffee from the farmers, we aren’t able to fulfil the demand,” she says.

Byarugaba would also like to see the social enterprise provide more technical support. It teaches farmers better practices, but doesn’t provide experts to evaluate their farms. “Sometimes there are pests and diseases that we don’t understand, and the coffee trees get dry,” he says.

Read more: Africa’s Green parties bet on international help

An ethical choice over the thrill of the chase

And there’s something else about Byarugaba’s life as a farmer that leaves him wanting. He misses the old days, the thrill of the chase as his dogs gained on an antelope, the sound of hunting bells, and days trekking through a forest he rarely visits nowadays.

Coffee cherries, Bwindi, UgandaThe ripening cherries of a Bwindi coffee plant. Commanding a premium price, the crop offers viable alternative to poaching

“I like poaching, most of the things I enjoyed in my life was poaching,” Byarugaba says, looking out over Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and breaking into a chuckle. Yet, on balance, he says it’s worth the sacrifice: “With coffee farming, I can always be assured of school fees for my children.”

Bwindi’s gorilla population has now grown from fewer than 300 in 1995 to over 400 . So, as well as paying a decent living, Byarugaba feels his decision has contributed to a greater good.

“In past years, I regretted [my decision] because we could get much from the forest,” he says. “Then I started earning some money and I don’t regret anymore: this life is better than the first.”

Author: Caleb Okereke-DW.COM