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New project helps young farmers unlock Uganda's coffee potential

04 December 2018

New project helps young farmers unlock Uganda's coffee potential

With co-funding from the European Union, Farm Africa has launched a new three-year project helping young farmers and women living in Kanungu, Uganda forge successful careers in the coffee industry. The project is spearheaded by Farm Africa, in partnership with Twin Trading and the Ugandan National Young Farmers Association.

In 2015, coffee made up 19%, US$442 million, of Uganda’s foreign exchange earnings. Yet, many coffee farmers are struggling to earn a decent income. Young people and women are finding it particularly difficult to turn a profit in the sector.

Farm Africa’s project, Investing in Uganda’s young farmers, will unleash the potential of Kanungu’s coffee industry and help young people and women kick-start thriving coffee farming businesses.

The trees remained bare and dry, just the trunks were left, the locusts finished everything. They are so destructive.”

Esther, a Community Animal Health Worker

Supercharging Kanungu’s coffee industry

Kanungu’s farmers lack access to quality buyers and suppliers, as well as the knowledge and finances necessary to invest in their businesses so that they can meet high-end coffee markets’ standards and realise a good price for their produce.

Working with newly-formed young farmers groups and established local coffee cooperatives, Farm Africa is equipping 168 lead farmers and cooperative staff with the ability to deliver training in the sustainable production of high-quality Arabica coffee.

Farm Africa will provide lead farmers with smart phones, pre-loaded with essential learning materials, enabling them to train 4,800 farmers in how to sustainably increase yields, and properly handle and process their beans to buyers’ standards.

Currently Kanungu’s farmers process both Arabica and Robusta beans in the same way and sell buyers a mix of the two species, lowering the price of their produce. Farm Africa will train farmers to process the two species separately, and will set up several mini-wet processing sites across Kanungu.

The project will provide the agribusinesses that supply farmers with vital inputs and services, for growth. Farm Africa will provide these enterprises with the financial and management skills they need to expand their operations and link them to financial institutions to fund their growth.

Supporting young and female farmers

Rising youth unemployment and shrinking land sizes loom over the Uganda’s future. Despite the fact that women carry out the majority of agricultural work, female farmers have little control over agricultural resources, like land, and the profits their labour generates.

In Kanungu, the eldest man of the family normally controls all 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. Daughters receive markedly less land than sons. Even when they do receive access to land, young people and women often don’t have control over what’s grown on.

To complement government activities, Farm Africa staff 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, benefitting not only themselves but the entire family as well.

Farm Africa will bring women and male decision-makers together to explore the economic and social benefits of women’s empowerment. Farm Africa will spotlight the benefits households stand to gain by providing women with control over new economic activities.

Farm Africa has also helped the Ugandan National Young Farmers Association establish themselves in Kanungu. Farm Africa will provide emerging leaders with training in advocacy so they can draw attention to the challenges and opportunities facing Kanungu’s next generation of coffee growers, and advocate for change at both a district and national level.

This project is funded by the European Commission represented by the  Delegation of the European Union to Uganda.