In 2015, coffee was responsible for 19% (US$442 million) of Uganda’s foreign exchange earnings. However, with average farm size under 1 hectare, many coffee farmers struggle to earn a decent income.
The new project ‘Investing in Uganda’s young farmers’ will run in the Kanungu region of Uganda. Kanungu is a district in the Western province where abundant sun, volcanic soil and the altitude mean it’s a perfect location to grow rich, Arabica coffee. The project aims to help young people and women start thriving coffee farming businesses which can, in turn, drive economic growth in the region.
At the moment, Kanungu’s farmers struggle to access buyers for their coffee. There are also very few training opportunities in business management and finances. This means farmers can have problems pricing their produce properly and meeting international coffee buyers’ standards.
The project will work with newly-formed young farmers groups and established local coffee cooperatives. 168 lead farmers and cooperative staff will be trained to deliver workshops on sustainable production of high-quality Arabica coffee. Lead farmers will be given smart phones that come with essential learning materials. This means that nearly 5,000 farmers will be trained on how to increase yields and handle coffee cherry to high standards.
Many farmers in Kanungu currently process Arabica and Robusta beans in the same way and sell buyers a mix which lowers the price of their produce. However, the project will train farmers to process the two varieties separately and set up several mini-wet processing sites across the region.
In coffee, as in many other agricultural commodities, women carry out the majority of agricultural work, yet they have little control over agricultural resources, like land, and the profits their labour generates. In Kanungu, the eldest man of the family normally controls the family’s major investment and land use decisions. Before their parents pass away, most young coffee farmers work on very small parcels of land, normally a fraction of the size of their parents’ land. Typically, daughters receive significantly less land than sons. Even when they do have access to land, young people and women often don’t have control over what’s grown.
To complement government activities, the project will mediate informal family land agreements that provide young people and women with access to and control over land. This will mean women and young people can invest in their land, improve harvests and earn more which will benefit the whole family.
Twin will use its unique gender action learning (GALS) methodology to bring male and female decisions-makers together to explore the economic and social benefits of women’s empowerment. The GALS approach is a creative way to talk about gender and helps to open a dialogue in communities where gender roles are deeply entrenched. The project aims to demonstrate the advantages in households and on farms of women having a say in economic activities.