Coffee Farmer’s Dream
A dad aims to cash in on Uganda's cash crop to create a sustainable livelihood and provide for his family.
Tom in Uganda is a coffee farmer at the front end of the process. His daughter Lynatte, 10, is sponsored through Unbound, and it was her sponsorship benefits that helped him start the family coffee farm.
"I decided to grow coffee because, before I even joined Unbound, I knew that coffee is the main cash crop of Uganda," Tom said.
The family has been part of the Unbound program since 2014, and they've made good use of their benefits. With Lynatte's sponsorship taking some of the financial burden off the family, Tom was able to save enough money to buy 3 acres of land. The land, in addition to the coffee plant seedlings the family selected as an Unbound benefit, got him started.
When Tom first bought his land, it was full of bush that needed to be cleared. After the hard work of clearing the land, he was able to plant coffee and banana trees, with space in between to grow other plants while waiting for the coffee to mature.
"Since the coffee [plants] are still young, I use this land [in between the coffee trees] to grow sweet potatoes, groundnuts and passion fruits there, so it does not interfere," Tom said.
Tom isn't alone in his endeavors. He's part of the Chanamkaka parent group, and together they took advantage of training opportunities to learn how to irrigate their farms to prevent soil erosion and get other tips on how to care for the plants to yield the most produce. Beyond his community, farming is a major livelihood among families served by Unbound in Uganda.
"Over 1,700 sponsored families have established inter-planted gardens of coffee and bananas, others vanilla," said Teddy Naluwu, program coordinator, "with potential to earn them over $5,000 U.S dollars within three years from the time of planting."
Farming isn't subject to the same kinds of restrictions and lockdowns placed on street vendors and other jobs during the pandemic, so it's been a stable source of income for families.
"Our sponsored families' farming livelihoods, which make up 90% of the total sponsored families' livelihoods [in Uganda], have steadily improved despite the devastating impact of COVID-19 this year," said Naluwu.
Coffee is one of the main exports of Uganda, and according to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority, Uganda's coffee was recently rated third best in the world. With all the coffee drinkers in the world, there's a lot of demand for the precious bean, and the development authority said Uganda's government has plans to increase their exports to 20 million bags a year.
That's good news for farmers like Tom.