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Investing in Uganda’s young and female coffee farmers

Photo by Esther Mbabazi Photo by Esther Mbabazi
The problem

With over 78% of its population below the age of 30, Uganda is the world’s second youngest country. However, rising youth unemployment is a looming threat to Uganda’s development.

Coffee is Uganda’s most valuable crop, with the majority of the country’s coffee being exported to Europe.

Despite coffee’s profit-making potential, many coffee farmers living in Kanungu, western Uganda, struggle to make ends meet.

With limited access to land, labour, finance, commercial services and information about coffee production, young people and women find it particularly difficult to enter the commercial coffee sector and turn a profit.

Poverty has forced residents to axe the area’s forest for timber. Forest loss has contributed to decreasing soil quality and consequently falling coffee yields.  

What are we doing?

This project addressed the issues impeding young Ugandans from setting up profitable coffee businesses. We delivered training in coffee production, strengthened the capacity of agribusinesses and cooperatives to support coffee farmers and cultivated young farming leaders.

Improving agricultural knowledge

Working with local groups, Farm Africa equipped 168 lead farmers and cooperative staff with the ability to deliver training in the sustainable production of high-quality coffee that met the demand of high-end markets.

These lead farmers then used smart phones, pre-loaded with interactive learning materials, to train 4,800 farmers in sustainable production practices, how to increase their yields, when to harvest and post-harvest handling.

Smartphone-assisted training sessions provided female farmers, who typically are responsible for the majority of household tasks, with the opportunity to view training modules at locations and times that were convenient to them.

Creating jobs and building businesses

The agribusinesses that supply Kanungu’s farmers with inputs, like new coffee plants and fertilisers, were supported to meet the growing demand from a new generation of coffee farmers seeking high-quality inputs for commercial coffee production.

We also provided practical support in the form of micro-washing stations, providing farmers with the opportunity to process and add value to their coffee so that they could sell it for a higher price. The micro-washing stations were run by members of the coffee farming community who received specialist training.

Strengthening agribusinesses and cooperatives not only improves the stream of goods and services available to smallholders but creates employment opportunities for young people within these businesses.

We also worked with the coffee producer organisations helping them to organise their supply chain, bulk and store top quality coffee and build links with traders, providing Kanungu’s coffee farmers with a decent income and new business opportunities.

Cultivating young agricultural leaders

Farm Africa helped the Ugandan National Young Farmers Association establish themselves in Kanungu. This project helped young farmers form farmers’ groups and unions. Farm Africa also provided emerging leaders with training in advocacy so they could draw attention to the challenges and opportunities facing these groups, and advocate for change at both a district and national level.

Who are we working with?

Farm Africa carried out this work in partnership with Kahawatu, a private foundation that supports eastern African coffee producing communities to achieve economic, social and environmental sustainability.

This project was co-funded by the European Union.