Growing Better Livelihoods – Part 1

Part of my role at ETP is supporting the Ugandan tea industry to improve the lives and livelihoods of those who produce tea, focusing on the Mpanga and Rwenzori processing factories. A key part of this has been helping workers and smallholders to increase their family income and wellbeing by concentrating on three areas: nutrition, improved fuel saving stoves, and composting.

What’s fantastic is hearing directly from some of the workers at Mpanga tea factory about the tangible benefits our work is having, and how it’s leading to better livelihoods – a fundamental part of ETP’s mission!

I have two inspirational stories to share with you. The first story is from Peter Machozi, a community leader at Mpanga. I’ll share the second story in another blog early next year. But first, here’s Peter’s:

I have been seeing people who do casual jobs and they have a lot of money. The only thing that would come into my mind is that they are thieves. Little did I know that their secret lies with farming. My first impression was, to make farming profitable, requires acres and acres of land, but the idea of Kitchen Back Yard Gardens (KBGs) has totally proved me wrong.

By the way before I go any further, for your information, I participated in this training by virtue of my position as a leader in this camp and not because KGBs were in my heart. Even during the training when the teachers were explaining the social, economic, and health benefits of them, I was thinking you are lying, but as I talk now I have realised the benefits, and from now on I will be a very good disciple.

Peter Machozi

Click to enlarge

Look at my cabbages. I only have fifty. But if I take such a size to the market, each will sell for 1,000 Ugandan shillings (about £0.30). This accounts for 50,000 shillings (about £11.50) from such a small piece of land. Can you imagine? Now, another secret that I learnt from you (Francis) is that if I buy one sachet of seeds 1,000 Ugandan shillings, you get over 200 seeds. So do you see the multiplication effect here? I am now going to be growing tomatoes, onions, and cabbages in these small plots, which I will eat and there will be surplus that I can sell. The money I get from sales will be used for buying other foods, which require more land like bananas, sweet potatoes, and maize. So tell me how will I touch my salary to buy food? (He laughs). If I become rich people will say that I stole company money!

Finally, I have two requests. Firstly, please Francis can you come and give us new ideas because technologies are changing day by day, and it’s important for us to stay updated. Secondly, we still need more training because as you can see you opened our eyes. More people are still here ‘crying’ for the Government to help them as they have a lot of land but they lack ideas like this on KBG. In any case, there are plenty of markets, just waiting for us to go there and sell our foodstuffs!

About the project

This work is part of a wider 3-year project funded by Tata Global Beverages and IDH – The Sustainable Trade Initiative aimed at improving sustainable tea production in Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda. In Uganda ETP is specifically focusing on improving worker livelihoods, increasing tea farmer incomes, raising social and environmental standards, and supporting Rainforest Alliance certification.

Project Impacts Across 2 factories, Uganda:

 Total Number
Kitchen Back Yard Gardens381
Improved Fuel Saving Stoves343
Composting Pits156

Read: Growing Better Livelihoods – Part 2