Women provide about 60% of labour in the agriculture sector yet they are still constrained in accessing markets, production resources, and skills among others. Their male counterparts on the hand dominate the markets and have full control and ownership on the productive resources. For women doing coffee and honey value chains, land ownership is a major obstacle, these rarely make decisions on how to manage plantations and sell their produce. This also affects the women’s ability to meet the participate in joint enterprises hence lowering their self-confidence. Further to that, Coffee production and bee keeping are considered as masculine ventures. worldwide, coffee and honey are among the most consumed products used as food, medicine and also generates income for the producers. In West Nile region, farmers are operating in losses because they lack the necessary skills in coffee and honey production and management.
ESAFF Uganda developed the Agroecology Business Hub earlier this year to help small-scale farmers, particularly women, develop business skills and gain economic empowerment. From 20th to 24th of March, the Agroecology Business Hub trained 52 small-scale farmers from the West-Nile region to help them create successful businesses in the coffee and honey value chains. Through the Agroecology Business Hub, ESAFF Uganda supports women small-scale farmers under different value chains to produce, add value and market their products. The Agroecology Business Hub will support women enterprises with registering their businesses, accessing markets, purchasing processing equipment, branding, and packaging. Through the Kilimomart Application, the Agroecology Business Hub will promote women produce under the selected value chains. Nancy Mugimba, the National Coordinator of ESAFF Uganda noted that the Agroecology Business Hub was established to prove that agroecology can be profitable.
“Often times, coffee farmers think that it is a onetime investment which is not the case, in order to get the best out of coffee, farmers are encouraged to constantly rehabilitate their coffee plantations. This not only rejuvenates the plants but increased yield too. Old coffee plantations have the ability to produce as much as the newly established plantations.”- Amege Godwin, coffee Extension officer, West Nile.
During the training, coffee farmers highlighted that pests and diseases affect their yield and they are not conversant with the right pest control methods. It is all about subjecting the coffee plantations to the right agronomic practices like Keeping coffee fields clean, applying the right spacing, organic fertilisers and pesticides, planting pest repellent trees species among others are among the practices that farmers can adopt to control pests and diseases.
Bee keeping is the easiest form of agriculture as it does not require a lot of inputs, and can be practiced on the least fertile lands. Besides that, honey is among the most consumed products worldwide. “As farmers, we need to explore the different market platforms available to showcase our products. We need to strengthen the joint enterprises in our communities because this gives us more bargaining power and with frequent knowledge sharing amongst ourselves, we can do better. This training is very timely because it is harvest time and many farmers sell unprocessed honey, many will be able to add value to honey and increase their profit margin.”- Okwai Bosco, LC3 Chairperson, Ndhew Subcounty, Nebbbi District.
“While distributing land, my father gave me the most infertile land that my brothers had rejected. So I decided to get into bee keeping and it yielded beyond my expectation. This enabled me to buy fertile land for other agricultural activities. Most times, we miss good money because we don't venture into value addition. Besides producing honey, we can now engage in wine making, wax production, candle making, shoe polish among others from the wax. This training has really been helpful to us.”- Ojok Jenaro, bee keeper in Parwath Village Ndhew Subcounty, Nebbi district. Through bee keeping Ojok was able to construct a house and his children are among the few attending school in his village. His dream is to send his daughter to a nursing school.
Farmers received guidance on understanding the cost benefit analysis in order to improve their profit margin. Many farmers follow the trending market prices ignoring their inputs and since they do not keep records, it is hard to track the profits made per season. The trained women showed great zeal in taking on coffee and bee keeping value chains to improve their livelihood. ESAFF Uganda plans to use the Agroecology Business Hub to build a case for the need for sustainable investments and supportive framework conditions for agroecological enterprises.