On a sunny afternoon, George Muhanuka Tindyebwa grabs a bucket to pick some coffee cherries from his garden. Red-ripened cherries create beautiful scenery in the four-acre space where Tindyebwa has planted his coffee.
I had hoped that I would one day start to benefit from my garden.”
It took him three years before he could pick any cherries from this garden, but he was patient. “I had hoped that I would one day start to benefit from my garden,” he says.
He diligently pulled weeds, pruned and mulched his garden. At times he says, he felt desperate whenever he was hungry and could not find food.
“It’s disturbing to see healthy gardens when you actually can’t pick a leaf or anything from it, year after year,” the former teacher says.
Out of frustration, Tindyebwa birthed an idea. He also started a plantation alongside the coffee trees. “I could also interplant some beans in the coffee garden to survive on as I waited for my coffee beans to mature.”
Now, Tindyebwa harvests at least 20 bags of cherries that he dries and takes to a nearby trading centre for “cleaning”. The cleaning process involves hurling coffee beans to remove bad coffee beans and coffee husks.
Out of these, he says he can make at least UGX 1,850,000 (about USD 500) per season. It is still a work in progress. He is currently harvesting half the garden.
I love coffee, but I have never tasted the coffee from my garden.”
“I love coffee, but I have never tasted the coffee from my garden, only Nescafé that I buy at an exorbitant price,” he says.
He sells a kilogram of coffee at UGX 6,000 (about USD 1.60), but he buys a small container (50 grams) of Nescafé at UGX 15,000 (about USD 4).
Unlike other farmers who can live off their crops at various stages, Tindyebwa has first to sell coffee to enjoy the fruits of his labour. “This is so discouraging,” he says.
Rugaya Richard, a coffee entrepreneur and the owner of Gorilla Highland Coffee, says: “Farmers’ mentalities have to change from the days of colonisation. They were told that coffee was not for consumption but rather for making medicines and bullets.”
Under his label in Kisoro District, Richard teaches farmers how to roast and package coffee, not to mention how to process and drink it. “Famers must be informed that coffee is not bad and is something they can directly consume,” he says.