Coffee Plantation, Changing the Future

Kalemeera John has been a farmer his whole life. His parents and their parents were subsistence farmers too, relying on maize and beans every season to feed their family.

John and his wife have a large family, and they both work hard to grow food to keep their nine children healthy. Whatever yields are not used to feed the family; John sells at the local market to pay for his children’s school fees.

However, for many seasons, John’s maize and beans suffered from drought, and his matooke plantation from a new disease called Banana Bacterial Wilt (BBW), which has spread, across the nation. BBW caused his entire plantation to yellow, producing very few bunches of matooke.

So when he was invited to a parent’s workshop on coffee crops at his child’s school, he eagerly attended. John spent a full day learning about clonal coffee. He was trained on how to plant, weed, mulch and irrigate coffee seedlings. He was taught how to prune, harvest and dry coffee beans and began to understand the value of coffee. He understood that coffee takes about two or three years before a decent number of coffee beans can be harvested, and although he worried about how to make it through the next years, he decided to take the risk. He applied for seedlings from Into Your Hands-Africa and received 100 clonal coffee seedlings to plant.

It has been three years since John first planted those coffee seedlings. We visited his home which is now hidden amongst lush green coffee trees, a rare sight during the dry season. John showed us around his plantation and explained the hard work it took in the beginning to ensure his seedlings grew tall and strong.

With this special care in the early months of first planting the seeds, he was able to collect his first harvest within two years of planting. Last year, he harvested three full sacks of dried coffee beans, earning 500,000 Ugandan shillings or approximately $137 US dollars. With this, he was able to not only pay for his children’s school fees, but also to buy an additional 250 clonal coffee seedlings to add to those he received from Into Your Hands-Africa. This year, he was able to harvest another three sacks and purchased an additional 150 coffee seedlings.

With a plantation of 500 seedlings, John now feels a sense of relief. He has confidence that with his continued hard work, he and his wife are now able to keep their children in school and provide for their family. He continues to grow maize and beans to feed his family but knows he can rely on the income from his coffee to keep his family educated, happy and healthy.

by IYH-A Project Officer

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Our Farmers are Expanding!

Semanda Atanas is the father of two young girls. He and his wife live in the remote village of Kyantale, their small house perched on top of rolling hills of matooke, cassava, beans, maize and coffee plantations. Nestled in the valley, you’ll find an immaculate coffee shamba, where Atanas planted 90 seedlings he received from IYH-A in 2012. Today, after much care, hard work and 600 additional plants Atanas has purchased, the two-meter tall branches hang heavy with bright red coffee beans, 1,500 kg worth!

Every month, Atanas mounts his bike with his harvest and heads to the local market, using the proceeds to pay for his daughters’ schooling. Next season, he plans to add 310 more for a total of 1,000 trees. The sky’s the limit!

by Into Your Hands-Africa Staff

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The Experience of a Lifetime

It was the experience of a lifetime!

That is what I tell people when they ask about my recent trip with Into Your Hands-Africa to Uganda. It is impossible to fully explain to anyone that hasn’t been there of the life-changing experience that I had. I am so proud to be a part of this organization that is giving such amazing opportunities to the people in rural Uganda.

I am reminded of a quote by Margaret Mead,

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Meet Andrew who is in his final year at St. Denis Secondary School. He is an orphan who lives with his uncle, along with his siblings. His uncle is unable to pay all of his school fees, so he relies on a scholarship from IYH- A to fill the gap and wishes to continue his studies to be a doctor one day.

As you can see in the photo above, Andrew is a Denver Broncos fan (or at least he is now that I gave him a t-shirt). I met him one Sunday as we gathered outside of church after mass. With great confidence and without hesitation, he walked up to our group, introduced himself and thanked us for the opportunity of his education. His English is perfect. We stay in touch now through Facebook.

Meet Grace, a third year student at St. James Secondary School. She lives with her parents and six siblings.

Her family was a beneficiary of the Into Your Hands-Africa coffee enterprise program. They started with 90 coffee plants provided by IYH-A and 10 that they purchased as part of the agreement with the program.

As a family, they prepared the land and watered by hand each coffee plant for one year to get the seedlings started. Four years later, they have over 460 plants, all started from the original 100, producing over 70 kg of coffee two times per year. With the income earned, Grace’s parents are able to pay the fees for all seven of their children to attend school.

These are only two of the hundreds of families whose lives Into Your Hands has benefitted. I know that these examples will inspire you to continue your involvement and support of this organization. And, maybe make you want to pack your bags for the next insight trip to Uganda!

by Meg Leadford, Insight Trip Ambassador

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