'We have to act now': The Welsh-Ugandan coffee collaboration helping to fight the climate crisis

The farmer behind the social enterprise coffee brand Jenipher's Coffi has been sharing her experiences of farming on the front line of the climate crisis to help inspire change for the next generation.

Jenipher Sambazi met with children at a primary school in Cardiff last week, to talk about how climate action is impacting her and other coffee farmers across the world.

Speaking with the children at St Monica's C.I.W. Primary School, Jenipher relieved the 'devastating' effects of climate change that she has witnessed while farming in Uganda, including changing landscapes, failed crops and deforestation.

She said: "Climate change is all over the world and it's affecting many of the farmers."

Farming high on the slopes of Mount Elgon, Jenipher knows first hand the threats that climate change presents to farmers across the world.

The region where she lives has seen an increase in devastating landslides that have destroyed farms and villages in recent years, causing death tolls in their hundreds.

Last year a huge hailstone storm led to floods that ripped through her village, destroying crops from coffee to cassava.

Some of the children listening to Jenipher's story, realised how 'frightening' climate change is, with one saying: "It's worrying me because the idea that in one-hundred years, half of this city will be underwater and more creatures will be extinct."

The global coffee supply at-large is at risk from climate change. Credit: Jurgen Freund/WWF/PA

Launched in the face of adversity, Jenipher’s Coffi was born at the start of the COVID-19 crisis by entrepreneur from south Wales, Elen Jones who worked with Jenipher.

As cafes shut up shop and world markets faced uncertainty, the plan to sell her cooperative’s un-roasted green beans wholesale were quickly under threat.

Enrepreneur Elen took the decision to roast the beans in Wales to sell at retail, recognising that more people were drinking coffee in their homes in lockdown.

The global coffee supply at-large is at risk from climate change, with studies suggesting about half of the land used to grow high-quality coffee will be unproductive by 2050.

Tree planting and agroforestry methods practised by Jenipher and the farmers she represents are vital in helping to mitigate the impacts of extreme weather and help reach global climate targets.

Jenipher said, “I am seeing in my community how climate change and the pandemic are not only causing a loss to life and livelihoods, but they are also leading to an increase in girl marriages as families become more desperate for their future.

“Hail storms are damaging our crops and heavy rainfall is leading to flooding and landslides, made worse by deforestation - which often has poverty at its root.

“Through getting a fair price for our product, our cooperative is able to have far-reaching impacts in our communities: we educate people in how to plant the right trees and mix of crops to help them be resilient against climate change, we empower women to start their own enterprises, and we encourage girls into school instead of arranged marriages.

"Now we need our politicians, businesses and all of us to make the right decisions for our planet, so we can all survive, and thrive together.”

Co-founder Elen said, “This start-up was born from a special partnership between Wales and Uganda, where communities on other sides of the world have united to work, share and learn."

“As well as ensuring everyone is getting paid properly and supporting those on the front line dealing with climate change, we also want to decarbonise as much as we can, where we can."

Farmers that grow Jenipher’s Coffi are part of a Welsh Government initiative to plant 25 million trees in Uganda by 2025.

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