BALTIMORE, Sept. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Willington Wamayeye, co-founder and managing director of the Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative Enterprises (GCCE), a Lutheran World Relief partner in Uganda, joined a panel of distinguished speakers at a special event highlighting food security hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the President of Malawi, Joyce Banda, during the United Nations General Assembly.
The event, entitled "Feed the Future, Partnering with Civil Society," highlighted the variety of ways that civil society organizations contribute to progress in achieving food security, especially in partnership with governments and private sector firms, and on opportunities to engage them in effective and innovative ways.
According to Wamayeye, this is an important discussion for world leaders to have. "The status quo is really unacceptable," says Wamayeye. "At present it is the poorest, smallest farmers that are providing the bulk of the investment."
Wamayeye co-founded GCCE in 1998 as a way for farmers who wanted to focus on improving coffee quality to jointly market their product. LWR began working with the cooperative in 2008 to help improve the quality of their coffee and increase coffee yields.
Since that time, GCCE has placed a strong focus on governance, capacity strengthening and building trusted relationships with buyers. Under Wamayeye's leadership, membership has grown to more than 8,000 small-scale coffee farmers and the cooperative is selling high-quality, organic, fair trade coffee. Since 2008, the cooperative has increased its coffee production by nearly 60 percent, from less than 452 tons to producing 786 tons of coffee in 2011. With this increase in production, small-scale coffee farmers are earning more income and becoming more food secure.
During the panel discussion, Wamayeye highlighted how Gumutindo works to improve the livelihood and general quality of life for its member farmers by emphasizing collaboration among farmers, the involvement of women, engaging local and national governments and the formation of relationships with both trading and non-trading partners.
"We cannot do this alone," Wamayeye stressed. "Gumutindo recognizes the importance of partnership."
"It has been a privilege and an honor for LWR to be a part of Gumutindo's progress," says LWR president and CEO, John Nunes. "Through hard work and partnership, Gumutindo has transformed from a struggling cooperative to a continuing success story. Our investment has had great returns. We've gone farther together than either organization could have gone on its own."
Evelyn Nassuna, LWR's country director for Uganda, adds, "LWR is proud that Secretary Clinton and her staff have agreed with our assessment: that Gumutindo is the kind of success story that needs to be held up and replicated around the world."
The event was moderated by New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof and fellow panelists included Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); Dr. Laurent Sedogo, Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources of Burkina Faso; and Dr. Carolyn Woo, CEO of Catholic Relief Services.
In addition to its partnership with LWR, Gumutindo also works with U.S.-based companies like Root Capital and Equal Exchange, LWR's partner in the LWR Coffee Project, with a common goal of providing U.S. Lutherans with a meaningful way to put their faith into action by participating in Fair Trade. Additional support was provided by the Foods Resource Bank, an organization of U.S. farmers that works to support their overseas counterparts.
To learn more about LWR, and its relationship with Gumutindo, please visit lwr.org/fairtrade.
WHO IS LWR? Lutheran World Relief, an international nonprofit organization, works to end poverty and injustice by empowering some of the world's most impoverished communities to help themselves. With partners in 35 countries, LWR seeks to promote sustainable development with justice and dignity by helping communities bring about change for healthy, safe and secure lives; engage in Fair Trade; promote peace and reconciliation; and respond to emergencies. LWR is headquartered in Baltimore, Md. and has worked in international development and relief since 1945. For more information, please visit lwr.org.
Lutheran World Relief is a ministry of U.S. Lutherans, serving communities living in poverty overseas.
SOURCE Lutheran World Relief