Published on 27-09-2019 by Admin

Fair Trade, Organic, Geographical Indication: The Triple Certification Model for Rwenzori Coffee

"Enhancing Africa Green economy through Eco Geographical Indication for Coffee" : Triple certification

The project aims at enabling a Triple Certification:

  • Fair Trade
  • Organic
  • Geographical Indication

A certification is a document delivered by an independent body, that certifies that a product follows a given set of rules.

For agricultural products such as coffee, an increasing number of certifications have become available. This project supports a group of Mount Rwenzori Cooperatives and Cooperatives Unions to reach the combination of the following three certifications :

  1. Fair trade: Fair trade rules, or standards, are designed to aid the sustainable development of small producers. Small producers are grouped in democratic cooperatives or groups, buyers and sellers establish long-term stable relationships, buyers must pay the producers at least the minimum Fair Trade price or the market price when it is higher. In addition, buyers must also pay a social premium through the producers’ organization.

  2. Organic: Organic certification standards mean that the farming system prohibits the use of synthetic inputs, such as drugs, fertilizers and pesticides. The stakeholders of the Ugandan organic sector developed the Uganda Organic Standard in 2004 and adopted the East African Organic Product Standard in 2007.

  3. Geographical Indication: Product names can be granted a 'Geographical Indication' (GI) if they have a specific link to the place where they are made. The GI recognition enables consumers to trust and distinguish quality products while also helping producers to market their products better. The Uganda government passed the Uganda Geographical Indications Act (Uganda Gazette, 11th October, 2013) and approved the Uganda Regulations for Geographical Indications (12th October, 2018 ).

Geographical indication (GI) is newer and less known than other certifications. On this platform, we therefore provide more details on GI.


Fair Trade certification

Example: Logo of the International Fairtrade Certification Mark, owned by FLO (Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International)

Fair Trade Logo

Organic certification

Example: logo of the East African Organic Products Standard (EAOPS)

Europe's devco Newsroom

Geographical Indication (examples)

Example 1: Logo for Protected Geographical Indications within the European Union

Protected Geographical Indications within the European Union Logo

Example 2: Logo for GI Darjeeling tea (India)


Further information:

What is Fairtrade certification?

What is Fairtrade, and how does it work?

Fairtrade is a system that promotes collaboration between producers and consumers with a view to reducing poverty and improving livelihoods through ethical trade practices. This is achieved through fair price payment to farmers for their produce, fair wages for labourers, fair governance and fair management practices.

Fairtrade certification is based on economic, environmental and social criteria.

  • The economic criteria include the Fairtrade Minimum Price which acts as a cushion against falling prices and Fairtrade Premium (social premium) that is used to foster community development by providing additional money to farmers and workers for community development.
  • The environmental criteria focus on best agricultural practices, which includes proper water and waste management, preservation of natural resources and soil fertility, and minimal use of pesticides and agro-chemicals.
  • The social criteria focuses on democratic self-organisation, participatory decision making, gender equity and zero tolerance for forced and child labour to ensure good governance.

Why should coffee cooperatives seek Fairtrade certification?

The key benefits for coffee cooperatives are based on the three criteria required for Fairtrade Certification.

  1. Fairtrade certification offers farmers a minimum price for their produce. The minimum price covers the average cost of production, consequently, this acts as a safety net for farmers when market prices fall below a sustainable level. The minimum price is revised periodically and varies with the fluctuation of the international market. This in turn reduces the losses incurred by the producer.

Updated information about Fair Trade pricing table, including minimum price and certification Premium can be found on the following contact:

  1. Fairtrade certified cooperatives stand to get a Fairtrade premium, also referred to as the "Social" Premium, which can be used to foster community development. It is an additional sum of money that the buyers agree to pay, that farmers and workers can invest in projects of their choice. It is targeted towards improvements that are needed in the community or training and resources to enhance business and operations (building schools, dispensary, road renovation, office, warehouse building, etc.)
  2. Fairtrade certification fosters secured market access as a result of labelling which distinguishes certified coffee from conventional coffee. This ensures that Fairtraded coffee is matched to consumers who are conscious of ethical trade principles, sustainable environmental practices and social justice.
  3. Fairtrade systems helps in strengthening the organizational function of cooperatives through capacity building of the cooperative team. It promotes inclusive decision making which fosters transparency within the cooperative society thereby building trust and cohesion amongst the members. Furthermore, with Fairtrade certification, cooperatives are empowered to make better use of the direct sale of coffee by empowering cooperative societies to understand more about market conditions and trends which feeds into their decision making for marketing their produce. In addition, it will help the cooperative society meet the set criterion for direct marketing of coffee, which usually have unique conditions for purchase of produce.
  4. The farmers in the Fairtrade certified cooperative societies benefit from capacity building on best agricultural practices on the coffee plot, which translate to improved production practices that ultimately positively impact the households’ income and food security.

How is Fairtrade Implemented?

For a cooperative to be Fairtrade certified, an audit is carried out by an independent body to assess whether the organisation is in compliance with two requirements:

  1. core requirements: These are fairtrade principles which must be complied with
  2. development requirements: These are continuous improvements that certified organisations must make on average and they are measured against a scoring system that is defined by the certification body.

An organisation will be certified for compliance if they fulfill all the core requirements and meet the minimum score on the development requirements as defined by the certification body.

For more detailed information, you can visit the following web sites:

Fairtrade International:

Fairtrade International:

Fair Trade USA®:

What is Organic certification?

What is organic farming and organic certification of coffee?

Organic agriculture entails the production management systems that enhance the agro-ecosystem health, including natural resources, biological nutrient cycles and soil fertility. Organic production systems are therefore based on precise production, processing and handling standards.

There has been a growing demand for organic certified production due to an increase in the number of consumers who are concerned about sustainable production of the food they consume. Consequently, this provides an improved access to market for organic products.

Cultivation of organic coffee necessitates the elimination of the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Organic coffee production and subsequent certification requires that farmers adhere to five broad production principles:

  • Use of composted organic matter instead of chemical fertilizers to maintain soil quality
  • Use of biological and natural methods for the control of pests and diseases
  • Use of soil conservation practices, such as contours, terracing, plant cover, mulching and shade trees
  • Minimum use of fossil fuels in the production process
  • Minimum pollution during postharvest handling

Coffee farmers who may have used inorganic inputs in their cultivation of coffee are given two to three years to stop the use of inorganic inputs and strictly follow organic production guidelines for their coffee to be certified as organic.

Why should coffee cooperatives join organic coffee certification programmes?

Coffee cooperatives stand to benefit from organic certification of their coffee due to the following reasons:

  1. Organic coffee can be sold at a premium rate compared to non-organic coffee, thereby offsetting the production costs incurred by the producers. Furthermore, in addition to the higher prices, the market for certified organic coffee is more stable than conventional coffee markets. The higher prices result in increased household income and ultimately increased household food security. However, the premium rate for organic coffee is not predetermined but depends on the quality of the coffee and on the market situation at a given point in time

  2. The implementation of organic agriculture on the farm reduces the cost of inputs as farmers are able to use their traditional knowledge of the natural environment. Furthermore, there is improved quality of the coffee produced which enhances the first key benefit of gaining premium rates for the coffee.

  3. The capacity of both the cooperative and the smallholder farmer is built in order to ensure the implementation of best agricultural practices which in turn increases the production capacity of the farmers.

How is organic certification implemented?

Organic certification is an assessment undertaken by an independent body that gives a written assurance that the production process has conformed to organic standards. These include:

  1. Promotion of biodiversity therefore, cultivation must be done under diversified shade
  2. The varieties of trees planted should be adapted to the local climate and resistant to local pests and diseases.
  3. Nurseries should be organic and seeds should come from organic coffee fields.
  4. Control of erosion through mulching, soil cover and contouring/terraces, use of shade trees and construction barriers.
  5. Agricultural techniques that promote organic soil content should be used such as growing of legumes and use of organic fertilizers
  6. Correction of pH-value with permitted inputs such as lime
  7. Recycling of coffee pulp
  8. Processing using only mechanical and physical means with attention paid to reduction of energy use and cleaning of water that has been used to wash the coffee.
  9. Record keeping

In instances where both conventional and organic coffee are grown, the producer must ensure that there is a clear and adequate barrier between the two types of coffee to prevent contamination with agro-chemicals from neighbouring fields.

More detailed information about Organic certification systems can be found on this address:

What is a Geographical Indication ?

Product names can be granted with a 'Geographical Indication' (GI) if they have a specific link to the place where they are made. The GI recognition enables consumers to trust and distinguish quality products while also helping producers to market their products better.

Throughout the world, there are many examples of names associated with products of a certain nature and quality, known for their geographical origin and for having characteristics linked to that origin. Well-known specialty products are often named after their place of origin and common examples include: Darjeeling tea from India; Colombian coffee; Champagne sparkling wine from France.

Why are these local products special? Because they enjoy the unique combination of being from a specific region, local climate and soils in addition to the specific know-how and skills of the producers and processors. This results in a differentiated product - a product that has its own characteristics and reputation.

These specialty products have faithful buyers and consumers, who pay a higher price to enjoy this difference. Therefore, it is in the interest of both producers and consumers to have a guarantee that they are not fake or imitation products.

A Geographical Indication (GI) is a sign used on products that highlights a specific place or region of production and determines the characteristic qualities of the product originating from that place.

The Geographical Indication certificate is delivered by a National Authority. It gives a guarantee that the GI product is produced in a specific region, following fair and consistent production rules.

Geographical Indications are recognized worldwide. According to the World Trade Organization, they identify a good “as originating from a region, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin”.


Further information:

Geographical Indication, for whom ?

Geographical Indications protect both consumers and producers.

The GI recognition enables consumers to trust and distinguish quality products. It provides the consumers with more detailed information on the origin and quality of the product (provenance, process, and verifications carried out). It ensures that the product is traceable. Buying a GI product, means you are sure of the product’s origin, its production and the production controls in place.

The GI recognition also protects producers from misuse of the product name by producers or traders who are located outside the area of production, or who counterfeit the product by not respecting the production rules. With the GI registration, producers located in the region and committed to the production rules, are granted the exclusive right to use the product name. By ensuring trust and conveying information, the geographical indication adds value to the product, therefore making it a marketing tool.

The GI recognition benefits also the regions and the state. It highlights the authentic image of a defined region of origin. It is recognized internationally and promotes the national agricultural or handicraft heritage and preservation of cultural traditions.


Geographical Indications are a strategic area for the African Union.

Further information:

African Union, 2017. The Continental Strategy for the Geographical Indications (GIs) in Africa:

Geographical Indication: 3 main components

Three components must be present to register successfully a Geographical Indication:

1. A special product

First of all, a Geographical Indication stands for a special product. The uniqueness of the product comes from the specific quality, reputation, or characteristics, that can be attributed to its place of production. A GI cannot be invented, it is recognized because it benefits from a good “name” and reputation.

Only such special products can be registered as GI. If your product is not unique, you may use other labels, but do not try to register it as a GI!

2. A producers’ organization

Second, the GI operators (producers, processors) must set up an organization in order to apply for a Geographical Indication. To apply, local producers and processors must agree on the definition of :

  • the product,
  • the production area,
  • the key production and processing methods that must be included in the GI rules (also called GI standards or GI specifications).

The GI value chain organization files the application for registration as a Geographical Indication. After registration, this organization becomes responsible for the internal control of the GI rules.

3. An official registration

Thirdly, Geographical Indications are an Intellectual Property Right, on the same level as Trademarks or Copyrights. GI must be registered at national level, by the official body in charge of Intellectual Property Rights.

In Uganda, a full legal framework is already in place for Geographical Indications. GI applications must be filed at the Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB).


Geographical Indication: 3 main components Chart

Further information:

D:\Mes Donnees\Images\Logos\ursb_logo_4.jpg

Geographical Indication : Who does what?

Geographical Indications are a tool to promote and add value to specialty local products that are part of the national heritage. They require the collaboration of different parties:

The public authorities :

  • supply and implement the legal framework to register GI
  • register products bearing a GI label and monitor their progress
  • supervise the whole control system.

The operators (local producers, processors) :

  • gather into a GI group to request for the GI application:
  • prepare the GI Standards (also called GI specifications) of the product, including the area delimitation and the production methods;
  • take care of internal management within the value chain.

The control bodies (public or private):

  • write the control plan according to the content of the book of GI specifications;
  • take responsibility for the whole control system.


All hands in illustration

Further information:

FAO and Siner-GI Project -2009. Linking people, places and products. A guide for promoting quality linked to geographical origin and sustainable Geographical Indications. Rome, FAO, 189 p.

Geographical Indications : Expected benefits

There are 3 main benefits of registering a Geographical Indication:

1. To protect the product

The name of the product registered as a Geographical Indication is a protected Intellectual Property Right.

* The Name is reserved for products that respect the GI rules and Specifications, and are produced within a delimited area.

* The name enjoys administrative protection by public authorities.

* The name is not reserved to 1 single owner: It can be used by all producers, within the area, who comply with the GI specifications.

2. To add value to the product

Geographical Indications promote products by raising the market profile of famous, high-quality local goods. GIs highlight the authentic image of a defined region of origin therefore making it a “territory ownership model”.

The differentiation on the market results in a better price and better division of the added value.

GIs can be used for agricultural products, but also for other goods such as handicrafts.

3. To improve the quality of the product

The emphasis on geographical indication stimulates the definition, the improvement and the remuneration of quality.


Official Certificate of GI (Example)

Pepper from Sarawak (Malaysia)

GI as a marketing tool (example):

Penja pepper (Cameroon) sold in France as a specialty product

Geographical Indications: The GI code of specifications

By definition, Geographical Indications identify a product, where a given quality, characteristic or reputation is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

It is therefore necessary to define:

  • The product with its quality, characteristics, reputation
  • The geographical origin
  • The link between both

in a document, called GI standards, or GI specification ( or also called: Book of requirements, GI rules, Code of practices…).

The GI specifications should contain:

  • Name of the product
  • Description of the special product : specific quality, reputation and characteristics
  • Method of obtaining the product
  • Definition of the geographical area
  • Link between the geographical area and the quality, reputation or characteristics of the product
    • Natural factors
    • Human factors
  • Evidence of the product’s origin (source, traceability)
  • Verification / inspection / control body

These contents must stem from a participatory agreement among the local producers and processors of the GI product. Indeed, they are the people who know the specific product well. In addition, they are members of the GI organization that will be in charge of the internal controls.

Special care is needed when defining these GI rules. The rules should focus on the specific aspects and key production methods that guarantee that the product is different and has a good reputation. However, they must be realistic and controllable because if a rule cannot be controlled or is too costly to control, then it will be inefficient.


GI specification (example):

Red-cherry picking is one of the key rules for high-quality coffee


A Roaster's Guide to Ugandan Specialty Coffee - Perfect Daily Grind

Further information:

FAO and Siner-GI Project -2009. Linking people, places and products. A guide for promoting quality linked to geographical origin and sustainable Geographical Indications. Rome, FAO, 189 p.

GI: How to delimitate the geographical area ?

A Geographical Indication identifies a product as originating from a given place. In addition, the qualities or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a link between the product and its original place of production.

For example, the altitude, the climate, the soil, but also the local traditions and skills, help draw the “quality map” and hence, the geographical area of the GI product.

The delimitation of a Geographical Indication is not necessarily tied to the administrative borders of regions or districts. It should be based on facts that are related to the quality, characteristics or reputation of the product. Four major criteria should be considered:

  • The environmental criteria (soil, climate, topography, water resources…)
  • The local practices (cultivation practices, varieties, processing techniques…)
  • The local history and the reputation of the GI
  • The localization of producers and of processors.

The area for processing activities may be different than the area for the production of raw material.

Delimiting the area is an essential step for a GI. It requires dialogue and deliberation, since it defines who is included and who is not in the GI process.


Delimited area of a Geographical Indication (example) :

Map of the delimited area for Arabica coffee “Kintamani Bali”

Geographical Indication (Bali island, Indonesia)

peta kawasan IG_très small

Further information:

FAO and Siner-GI Project -2009. Linking people, places and products. A guide for promoting quality linked to geographical origin and sustainable Geographical Indications. Rome, FAO, 189 p.

Geographical Indication: The guarantee system

Geographical Indications make a clear promise to the consumers : The product originates from a defined region, and it is produced according to a set of rules, the GI specifications, to which producers and processors commit.

It is therefore necessary to enforce a traceability of this origin, and a control of these rules.

The guarantee system for Geographical Indications combines 3 levels:

  • Self-control: this is done by the producer or the processor himself
  • Internal control: this is done by the GI organization who performs regular visits to the producers
  • External control: this is done by an independent control body or by an official agency

The Control Plan is an important document to check that the GI specifications are respected. It must contain:

  • The list of Critical Control Points to be controlled for each criteria : What ?
  • The method of control (visual control, measurements, analysis of documents..): How ?
  • The frequency and periods of controls : When ?
  • The documents that certify that the controls have been carried out (in particular for self-controls and for traceability)
  • The penalties applicable in the event of non-conformity. These penalties may be economic (fines; prohibition to use the collective name; product downgrading) or social (exclusion from the group).


The GI organization commits to respect the GI rules (example):

Meeting of the coffee producers' representatives , Arabica coffee "Bali Kintamani" Geographical Indication (Bali Island, Indonesia)

Further information:

FAO and Siner-GI Project -2009. Linking people, places and products. A guide for promoting quality linked to geographical origin and sustainable Geographical Indications. Rome, FAO, 189 p.

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