Rwenzori agroforestry project: protecting the Ugandan canopy
Launched in 2018, after encouraging results of our Coffee Sustainable program in Ethiopia, the Rwenzori project in Uganda is gaining momentum, with 1,600 direct beneficiaries to be trained on agroforestry and good agricultural practices (GAPs) and over 180,000 trees to be planted by the end of 2020.
Designed in collaboration with PUR Projet, Rwenzori Farmers' Cooperative Union and Louis Dreyfus Company’s (LDC) agronomists, the project provides smallholder farmers with training on sustainable coffee production practices and distributes agroforestry seedlings to help regenerate the ecosystems they depend on.
From February 11th to 28th this year, the project also sensitized over 18,000 people from 15 villages thanks to theatre-plays related to environmental conservation and restoration. By way of these interactive plays, farmers learnt how to preserve the rainforest in the national parks nearby and discovered the importance of planting trees in order to produce coffee sustainably.
We spoke with project beneficiaries Catherine Nyanjala & Joel Kaghalhamire, who attended the GAPs training in 2019, and in turn started to provide guidance to their peer coffee farmers on the implementation of the agroforestry systems and sustainable production methods in 2020.
“We joined the project in 2019 and since then both Catherine and I learn a lot about coffee rejuvenation and agroforestry methods. For instance, we started to plant banana trees giving temporary shade for our coffee and vanilla plants. Thanks to these trees, our parcel is always cool and is better adapted to the dry spells. We also use bananas for food,” explains Joel
“To be able to grow more coffee, we used to buy fertilizers and green manure. Now we manage to produce our own compost by using our kitchen rests and the three compost pits we dug. This helps us to reduce our production costs,” says Catherine
Picking coffee crops is hard work, but the coffee farmers’ job doesn’t stop there: they must also look after their plantations, planning carefully when to plant, prune and stump their precious trees.
“We were also encouraged to prune trees correctly for better aeration, and for weed and disease control. For us, coffee farmers, cutting the branches is not intuitive, and we are glad that now we know how to do it. We started to notice changes in our coffee yields – our weight of coffee per bag is increasing. This is a very good sign that coffee cherries become bigger,” adds Joel.
As in Ethiopia, once feasibility has been confirmed, the project now aims to complement the agroforestry initiatives by supplying improved cook stoves, in order to improve household health, save time for women farmers and protect the local environment at the same time.
Studies and activities to facilitate farmers’ access to markets are also envisaged, to ensure a sustainable economic return for coffee farming communities of the Rwenzori region.
Discover more about LDF support to coffee farmers in the Rwenzori region: