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