Ugandas’ politics negatively impacting the country’s biggest cash crop and vulnerable communities
For generations, Coffee has reigned supreme as Uganda’s biggest cash crop, the top-earning export and primary source of labour for rural smallholder farmers in a country that entirely depends on agriculture as the backbone of its economy.
Although coffee has managed to stand tall as Uganda’s most important cash crop, its export volumes have been heavily affected for several decades especially due to the political, economic and security challenges that country has faced over the years especially during the 1970’s and 1980’s when Uganda was engulfed in a civil war.
Despite these challenges, companies such as the “Uganda Coffee Export Centre” which was started in 1994 after coffee liberalisation have tried to promote the sale of coffee as an export while also supporting vulnerable people in some communities. Alex Patrick Ssemanda is a 3rd Generation coffee farmer and exporter, Mr. Ssemanda who has carried on the legacy that was started by his late father Steven Mukasa and his Late grandfather Pio Sekaziga has tried his best to maintain the long family tradition of employing and supporting a community of over 400 people that includes 320 vulnerable women who are looking for a livelihood in the poverty stricken area of Kyetume located in Masaka District in the Central Region.
With a strong desire to help some of the most vulnerable and impoverished members in some of the poorest communities in Uganda, Mr. Ssemanda and his company the “Uganda Coffee Export Centre” some years back managed to partner with Shadows of a Child (SoC) a non-governmental, not for profit, non-discriminating humanitarian organization that is passionate about caring for children, young people and women in vulnerable situations through one of its founders Mr. Enoch Saaki.
For long Mr. Saaki a champion of the poor and activist has been trying to use his affiliations to help the people of Nakasongola District where Shadows of a Child is stationed and through his personal efforts he has managed to transform lives young mothers under the “Seeds of Unity” programme aimed at providing food security and an opportunity for Agribusiness under the NGO’s Community Livelihood project.
By partnering with the local church, Shadows of a Child has provided 68,000 coffee seedlings to the young mothers that are resistant to pests, disease and bad weather plus hoes to facilitate the cultivation process and bicycles to facilitate their transportation from one village to another benefitting atleast 117 households, 25 villages and 13 Child headed families for family sustainability, to empower communities economically and to counter school dropout rates, poor health and nutrition among children. With those basics in place Child-mothers, care-givers and other members of the community are facilitated and equipped with technical skills and knowledge that they can rely on to ensure that the children in their care have what is necessary for the children’s well-being, growth and development.
Although Mr. Saaki has dedicated himself to the cause of helping the vulnerable, the political tensions in Uganda have immensely hindered his efforts in helping the needy through the coffee after being labeled an enemy of the state and sympathiser of the opposition pressure group “People Power” led by flamboyant MP and musician Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi Wine.
With Uganda heading for the presidential polls and the General Election in 2021, there is strong worry that the success of “Shadows of a Child and it’s director Enoch Saaki will get soiled by the allegations that many consider to be unfounded and baseless with little or no evidence presented.