In Tanzania, the production, processing and marketing of coffee is managed by a system of “Primary Societies” (or Village Cooperatives), which are joined by small farmers who, in turn, are associated in Unions of Cooperatives (regional), present in each of the 5 coffee producing regions.
Two of these regional cooperatives, KCU and KNCU, market more than half of all coffee in the country. KCU has 96 Primary Societies to which some 60,000 members adhere. The management of KCU is in the hands of a Board of Directors made up of 12 people, and the different areas of work are covered by some 400 workers.
KCU was born in 1950 with 48 primary (village-based) societies. In 1976 it was dissolved by the government (along with other cooperatives) and replaced by a state agency that was in charge of its sale and transformation. The cooperative unions were reinstated in 1984, but their assets were never returned, leaving them in a state of extreme poverty. In 1991 the government gave cooperatives complete autonomy, as well as freedom of association. KCU made its first Fair Trade export soon after, while Alternativa3 made its first import to our country in 1999.
The KCU is a second or secondary level cooperative. Its main activity is the commercialization of coffee and other agricultural products from 178 primary or base cooperatives. They are located in villages in the Kagera region, specifically in the districts of Bukoba and Muleba, representing some 100,000 workers who, together with their families, make up some 300,000 people. KCU also provides training and technical and financial support to small farmers. Farmers become members of grassroots cooperatives by purchasing 5 shares in the societies, for about 1,500 Tanzanian shillings.Visit website KCU