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Genesis of Mwanyi Terimba campaign

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Katikkiro Charles Mayiga promotes Mwanyi Terimba Ltd. PHOTO/MICHAEL J SSALI

As the people of central Uganda celebrate the current high coffee prices and the associated benefits it is inevitable for most of them to recall the numerous trips that the Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga, made to the various parts of Buganda kingdom in the past few years, meeting farmers and encouraging them to produce more coffee under the Mwanyi Terimba campaign.  

Seeds of Gold recently paid him a visit in his office at Bulange, in Kampala, to chat about how he came up with the idea of the Mwanyi Terimba campaign as one of the major steps to fight poverty. 

Mwanyi Terimba may have been coined in the beginning as a Luganda language slogan to suggest that one can never go wrong by growing coffee but today, as Mayiga revealed, it has actually metamorphosed into a young coffee buying company registered as Mwanyi Terimba limited.

“At the time the Kabaka appointed me the Katikkiro in 2013, the people of Buganda had been greatly traumatised by a number of events within the kingdom,” he told Seeds of Gold

“Three kingdom officials, Medad Sseggona, Betty Nambooze, and I were arrested and mistreated in 2008, the Kabaka was stopped from going to Bugerere which resulted in the so-called Kayunga uprising, and the closure of CBS Radio in 2009. Then there was the burning of the Kasubi Royal Tombs in 2010. My first task was to go to all parts of Buganda to give the people courage and to strengthen the bond between them and the Kabaka. I also needed to complete the construction of Masengere House and to rebuild the Kasubi Tombs. So, it was with all those ideas in mind that I set out to launch the Tofaali fundraising which gave me ample opportunity to talk to the people wherever I went about the challenges that we faced as a kingdom.”  

He said the tofaali fundraising exposed him to the reality that the people of Buganda had very strong love for their kingdom. “I was able to collect almost Shs3b in the entire exercise. But most astonishing was the fact that about 80 percent of that money was raised by the ordinary low-income people in the villages. It is true that I received big sums of money from companies and large organisations but their contributions amounted to only 20 percent of the total sum collected. Imagine, I went to Mawogola County (Sembabbule) and in a single day I raised more than Shs80m, yet there is no big company to speak about in Mawogola.”

He said every now and again he has to report to the Kabaka about his activities as Katikkiro and, towards the end of the Tofaali fundraising, the Kabaka, Ronald Mutebi ll, asked him what his plan was about the biting poverty that he had observed among the people. 

Coffee farming 
“I consulted my cabinet about what we could do about the Kabaka’s concern of poverty among his people. We wanted to give back to the people who had demonstrated so much love for the Kingdom and it was decided that the solution was to urge all the people to grow more coffee as a way out of poverty. It was something we knew they could do right where they lived and, after all, it did not require specialised training.

That is how we came up with the Mwanyi Terimba campaign which I launched in Buwekula (Mubende) in 2016,” said Mayiga. He was however quick to point out that the previous Katikkiro, Ssemwogerere Mulwanyammuli, had also included coffee production in his strategy to fight poverty under Buganda Cultural and Development Foundation (BUCADEF) only that it needed more effort and emphasis. 

Partnership with UCDA
He went on to reveal that soon after its launch the kingdom got into a partnership with Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) which provided some ten million seedlings to Mwanyi Terimba to pass on to the farmers.

He also secured a partnership with the Private Sector Foundation which trained agricultural services extension officers to guide farmers about good coffee production practices such as procurement of certified seedlings, fertiliser application, pruning, and mulching. Mayiga continues to visit model coffee farmers in the different parts of the kingdom to give them encouragement.

He wants them to use the money earned from coffee farming to build good houses, to dress well, to feed their families well and to take their children to the best schools. 

“Whenever I ask small children what they want to be when they are grown up all of them say they want to become lawyers and doctors,” he says. “No one has ever said he or she wants to be a farmer. This must be due to the poor impression that the farmers have given to the children by living in poorly constructed houses and dressing unimpressively,” he said.

Coffee as food 
He wants all farmers to understand that coffee is food and that it must be handled as such. “A lot of the farmers don’t even know where the coffee ends up when it leaves their farms. All they know is that it is taken to Kampala. We are now emphasising the importance of drying coffee on cemented yards or on tarpaulin or mats. They should not let livestock to freely walk over coffee spread out in the yard to dry. ” 

Mwanyi terimba has now embarked on establishing its own coffee nurseries in all counties to provide good quality seedlings to farmers. The young company has also started exporting coffee to countries such as Russia and the Arab Emirates. It makes Mpologoma coffee which is sold in shops. He also encourages farmers to take interest in mechanisation and irrigation technologies so that they don’t always have to pray for rain in order to achieve good harvests.

Marketing coffee 
He is glad that the prices are high and motivating to the farmers. “This may be attributed to the unfavourable weather conditions in the other major coffee producing countries which has reduced production and increased demand. And it is becoming trendy to drink coffee in densely populated and affluent countries such as China, India and the other countries in the East.” 

To increase demand for the crop he wants all people in Uganda to drink coffee. His comment on the fluctuating prices is that coffee is a high value internationally traded crop whose demand keeps growing.

He is however concerned that the Mwanyi Terimba campaign is beginning to suffer from its own success. He has received reports that nowadays due to the high coffee prices and bigger incomes there is increased consumption of alcohol, prostitution in many towns, and domestic violence. 

“We are telling the farmers to be careful with the money earned from coffee. They must learn to save some of the money to be used when the harvesting season ends.” He wants gender equity and transparency in coffee farming so that all household members have an equal sense of ownership of the crop. 

“It requires discipline and fairness,” he said. “It can be demoralising for the rest of family members when the head of the household sells the crop and uses the money to marry a second wife or to drink alcohol without paying any attention to the family’s needs.”  

Charles Peter Mayiga has received reports that nowadays due to the high coffee prices and bigger incomes there is increased consumption of alcohol, prostitution in many towns, and domestic violence. “We are telling the farmers to be careful with the money earned from coffee. They must learn to save some of the money to be used when the harvesting season ends,” he says.