Coffee growing opened doors for Mukono farmer
Posted Wednesday, February 6 2013 at 00:00
He grows coffee and bananas and rears pigs and cows. He is the typical Ugandan farmer, who looks at farming as more than just an activity to earn money, it is a way of life.
My name is David Maswaswa. I am 78 years old. I stay at Budugala village, Goma Division in Mukono District, with my wife, some of my children and my grandchildren.
I have been a farmer since my childhood. When I was growing up, our parents trained us to become farmers. By then coffee and cotton were the only major cash crops that one would grow, yield good harvests and get money.
These two crops were a must-have in every homestead because that is where most of our parents got the money to educate us unlike these days where people wait for salary or other kind of pay.
If one did not have a coffee or cotton farm, such a person was looked at as poor even though he had land but doing nothing with it because the person who sold his coffee or cotton would eventually buy off that land.
Many demands, little money
To my parents, coffee was the major crop from which money that paid all our school fees came from till we finished our studies.
When I finished my studies, I got a formal job but I was not satisfied with the money it put in my pocket. The money was so little and yet I had many demands on my list. I worked for only three years and I quit.
This is because I sat down and thought hard: How long I would be in such a situation of working so hard and yet earning so little?
I decided to quit and take on the work I had grown up doing with my parents. I asked for a piece of land from my father, who gave it to me. I planted coffee seedlings like him, which I intercropped with bananas.
As I waited for the coffee, I grew maize and beans, which I would sell in the meantime. When coffee eventually matured and was ready to harvest, I decided to concentrate to it alone and the bananas.
With the money I earned in the first harvest, I bought more land to expand my plantation. I continued buying land until I was sure it was enough for me to make a big harvest.
By the time my responsibilities had also increased, I was sure of not suffering. That is why I have been able to educate all of my children until they all finished school. That is all through earnings from coffee. Altogether, I have 10 acres of coffee spread in different places in the village.
To avoid losses after harvest, do not keep them in a sack or anything that contains or attracts moisture. This can spoil the coffee beans because with time, they rot.
The best way to keep them is to spread them on the large surface. The way I do it is; I spread them on the floor in the house where I put them after drying them. One must make sure that they have been dried for at least a week under sunshine. The place where they are being kept must be dry and not easily accessible to water or any liquid.
To the farmers’ benefit too, I advise that one should only sell dry coffee beans to earn a substantial amount though one would make more profit if there is value addition.
One can add value to the coffee by removing husks and packaging it for processing. The husks can be sold differently and the coffee too. That is how I have managed to earn from it all my life.