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Edwards Hamlet: A Coffee Farm With A Difference In Busoga Sub Region

Edward Munaaba (R) trains community members and youth on good agronomic practices in coffee production.

 

Edward Munaaba, the founder of Edwards Hamlet, is a retired climate change practitioner who is using the principles of regenerative agriculture to grow coffee on 8 acres in Busoga sub region.

His coffee is doing very well and the farm has become a centre of excellence in Busoga.

Munaaba says that he worked in Tanzania for 28 years and rose up the ranks to become the executive director of a prominent climate change organization in the country.

However, when the time came to call it quits at the end of his tour of duty, Munaaba decided to return home to put into practice what he was preaching.

The Birth of Edwards Hamlet

According to Munaaba, Edward is an acronym for Education, Water, Agriculture, Research, Development and Sports.

“Here we grow medicinal herbs, coffee, fruits, bees and vegetables. This is an education centre, a place where people come to be guided on enterprise selection and a mind change centre for the community,” he says, before adding, “We started with an acre and we kept on expanding. The farm now seats on 12 acres 8 of which have coffee. One portion had old coffee which we stumped. We shall have our first harvest this year.”

The Birth of the vision

When I was a student in Sweden, I learnt about climate change mitigation and adaptation in 1992. Those principles remained with me when I started working. When I retired, I chose to implement ecological adaptation methodologies in farming. I thought it pertinent to do start a demo farm that other people could learn from,” he says.

Mitigating climate change

While Busoga region has been hit with a severe drought in recent months, Munaaba’s farm is lush green with no sign that the drought affected him.

Munaaba says that he practices a unique type of agriculture that conserves the environment and reverses climate change.

“We practice regeneration agriculture. We carry out mulching. This promotes soil rejuvenation and enhances soil fertility,” he says.

According to him, under this method, they practice minimum tillage which helps him save on labour costs. “I have only 2 workers looking after the farm,” he says. “The mulching also helps to control weeds and keeps the water in the soil.”



These are some of the principles of regenerative agriculture. “We have 8 acres of coffee. If you keep tilling the land you cut the roots of the coffee trees and this shortens the lifespan of the coffee and how much you harvest,” he adds.

Munaaba says he is using nature-based solutions to enhance productivity at the farm.

 From farm to school

Munaaba says that his long term vision is to transition into a school where people from across the country can come and be trained and get skills to grow coffee in a sustainable manner.

“We started as a farm. We are working on transitioning into a model farm for others to come and learn about this unique farming method. Our long term vision is to develop this farm into a school,” Munaaba says.

Venturing into Apiary

At Edwards Hamlet, they are also integrating coffee growing with bees. The bees help with pollination when the coffee flowers. This ensures that they get maximum yields at the end of the season. There is an apiary within the farm and a fish farm in the offing.

Supporting the community

Munaaba does research and training for farmers on preparation of organic fertiliser. He also works with microfinance institutions in Busoga. Before they give loans to beneficiaries, they send the applicants to his farm and he works with the farmers on enterprise selection.

Through the interactions with the community, the farm aims to create a critical mass of skilled persons that can be part of the coffee value chain from farm to cup.

Edward Munaaba uses his coffee farm to train University interns about coffee production. His vision is to turn the farm into a training institute offering skills development to youth.

On average, 100 people visit the farm every month. The farm has also organised about 500 farmer groups in the community to adopt what they have taught them. This is part of the mindset strategy they are implementing to help fight poverty in households.

Skilling youth project

The farm offers internship to university students from different parts of the country for free. “Every year I get interns from different universities. These are students studying agriculture. The last batch trained on potting, pruning, drying, and processing of coffee,” he explained. The students are from Uganda Christian University and Kakira Technical Institute which each signed a memorandum of association with Edwards Hamlet.

They get a chance to put the theory they have learnt into practice.

Opportunities in carbon sequencing

The main objective of the farm was to demonstrate eco-based adaptation. Munaaba wanted to encourage his community to get into the carbon market. To date, the farm sequences over 2000 tons of carbon every year. This has brought additional benefits for him. “When I fly, I present [proof of] the number of frees I have planted [and] the airline gives me a discount because I have offset the carbon,” he says.

Challenges

Munaaba says that pests and diseases are a challenge. However, since they adhere to the good agronomic practices prescribed by Uganda Coffee Development Authority, his farm has not been affected as much as his neighbours’.

To curb any spread of diseases and pests he set up a system where no one can visit his farm without his prior permission.

Recommendations

In Tanzania where Munaaba spent half his life, he noted that the government identifies model farmers and agrees what support it can offer. He is disappointed that this is not the case in Uganda.

“UCDA needs to support farmers to do better,” he urges. “We have 12 solar panels but we need water pumps. We can have good partnerships that can help both of us to deliver [on increased production and productivity”.

 In the next few years, Munaaba expects they will adopt coffee tourism and will demonstrate the area’s traditional food and coffee.

Credit: UCDA



2 thoughts on “Edwards Hamlet: A Coffee Farm With A Difference In Busoga Sub Region

  1. Buyinza geoffrey

    Hello am also having 4acres, but I need your support . Keeit up

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