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With land, women can revolutionise Uganda’s coffee industry

Twenty-three-year-old Christine Kyakunda is short of land. The compact one-and-a-half-acre coffee farm that she tends in Kanungu in western Uganda isn’t big enough to provide for her family.

A lack of income means that all of the food her family eats she grows herself.  As a result, her children, aged two and six, don’t drink enough milk and sometimes have to skip meals, which Christine worries is affecting their health and development.

If Christine had more land, she would grow more coffee, the crop she currently grows on two-thirds of her farmland. More coffee would allow her to buy more nutritious foods for her children.

Traditionally, the eldest father in a family has control over the allocation of family land, deciding which family members get what piece of land and what they can grow on it. Young people find it difficult to access sufficiently big enough pieces of land, women doubly so.

In Uganda, women own a fraction of all farmland and largely don’t have a say in how farm profits are spent, although they perform 75-90% of agricultural labour.

Women coffee farmers plough the soil. They plant, weed, prune, spray and harvest. But it is the men who later take charge of selling coffee, and occupy financially rewarding positions in coffee processing, trading and marketing enterprises.

Christine thinks that “if women were handed as much land as men there’d be more food, production and development”.

Farm Africa’s Coffee is Life appeal is raising funds that will be matched by the UK government. The matched funds will pay for a new project focused on equipping women living in Kanungu with the land, tools and training they need to grow enough coffee and sell it for a fair price.

Farm Africa will work to encourage male land owners to let female family members use some of their land. By working with individual families, women’s groups and the media, the project will change the narrative surrounding women and land access.

“When my parents pass on their land, I expect that they’ll divide the land into four equally-sized portions. Each of my three brothers will receive one plot, my five sisters and I will have to share one. I feel discriminated against because I am a daughter. I don’t have a daughter, but I’d like one. I’d want my daughter to be treated the same as the boys,” commented Christine.

Christine’s life would also be improved by access to coffee processing facilities, which would allow her to add value to her produce, and gain access to more lucrative markets.

Christine is currently unable to process her Arabica coffee due to limited access to processing facilities locally, so she’s getting a low price for the coffee she grows. She has no option but to sell her unprocessed coffee to traders for rock bottom prices.

“The challenge is the price is dropping. The problem is the processing of Arabica, there isn’t an Arabica processing centre near to our home,” said Christine.

Farm Africa’s new project will help women fill leadership roles in community-run and owned coffee trading and processing cooperatives. The project will help women like Christine move from providing labour to adding value to their coffee, marketing it and securing good prices.

Donate today to empower women to stand on an equal footing with men in the Ugandan coffee industry. When women are economically empowered and are able to earn higher incomes, this is translated into benefits for the next generation.

Give farmers in Africa the opportunity to thrive. Give before 8 May 2019 and all public donations to Farm Africa’s Coffee is Life appeal will be doubled by the UK government. Your donation will support Farm Africa projects across eastern Africa, and the matched funding you unlock from the UK government will directly fund a Farm Africa project that will give women in Kanungu in western Uganda the opportunity to make a decent living from coffee farming.

Give farmers in Africa the opportunity to thrive

Give before 8 May 2019 and all public donations to Farm Africa’s Coffee is Life appeal will be doubled by the UK government. Your donation will support Farm Africa projects across eastern Africa, and the matched funding you unlock from the UK government will directly fund a Farm Africa project that will give women in Kanungu in western Uganda the opportunity to make a decent living from coffee farming.

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