As part of our International Youth Day 2022 commemoration, we are shining the light on two young farmers from our regions who are showing us what the future of thriving coffee communities looks like! We are honored to work with unique young farmers who are building capacities to take informed decisions about their livelihoods, acting as role models, and fostering intergenerational collaboration among all members of their communities.

We hope these stories will inspire you, just as they inspire us.

Ivan Ssembajwe

With the theme of this year’s International Youth Day being “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages”, we are featuring Ivan Ssembajwe from Uganda who understands the power of intergenerational knowledge transfer.

Ivan grew up in the countryside of Luwero in Central Uganda where his grandmother and mother worked the land to sow various crops for sustenance and income. As a young boy, he would run around and sometimes trample the young plants, but his grandmother and mother lovingly let him play in the garden knowing eventually, he would understand their value.

Just as his mother predicted, Ivan’s fascination and passion for farming grew as the seasons came and went. By the time he had become a young adult, he had keenly observed the humble coffee seedlings flourish into mature trees bursting with crimson cherries and gained an appreciation for coffee because its proceeds enabled his parents to afford his education.

In due course, Ivan’s mother taught him the basics of agriculture and gave him a portion of the family land to grow coffee professionally. Today, Ivan has combined the wisdom of his elderly grandmother and knowledge of his mother with the technical training he has received from HRNS to be an exemplary young farmer in Luwero district. He is currently a youth trainer and encourages other farmers to adopt the good agricultural practices that he knows.

Ivan’s mother sharing her knowledge of coffee management with him

Ivan sharing his knowledge of coffee management with a fellow farmer

Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s rural well-being and as young people make up 77% of Uganda’s population and 80% of Uganda’s unemployed are youth, it is imperative to support the generational change in agriculture. That is why HRNS’ youth programs in Uganda focus on supporting young people to overcome the many challenges they face such as unemployment, lack of access to land, information, agricultural inputs, markets, and finance – not only for their future but for the future of the nation.

Elda Avalo

As a young woman, and sister to four older siblings, Elda Avalo is used to being underestimated. Just 24 years old, she is a passionate tailor, college graduate in business administration, a lively participant in her farmer organization, and a joyful coffee farmer at heart, starting her journey towards becoming a Climate Pioneer! In her community, people are slowly starting to see young women follow their ambitions, involve themselves in family businesses, and take on leadership roles.

Taking part in the COCAFEL Youth Committee has opened her eyes to the potential she holds. With social, economic, and environmental challenges intensifying in agricultural communities, smallholders cannot afford to let their operations falter. It’s up to them to shape these shifting dynamics! “In order for myself, my family, and community to succeed, we must constantly experiment with new techniques to increase our yields and find other ways to diversify our incomes”, Elda states. This way, farmers can keep prospering even during lean months. “To achieve this, cooperation, exchange, and support between all community members and generations is needed.”

Young farmers who implement unique practices on their own land are innovators, but young farmers who are sharing these new techniques throughout their communities and farmer organizations are true change makers who can ensure that the prosperity is broadly shared, and that every one of their peers has the same opportunities that they do! As part of the training received to become a Climate Pioneer, Elda is dedicated to achieving exactly this. It’s going beyond learning about climate-smart agriculture, climate change adaptation, and building personal and professional capacities so youth can use both on and off farm activities to develop themselves and earn a living. It’s about advancing intergenerational collaboration, becoming community facilitators, and making sure that knowledge is exchanged among older generations, family members, and farmer organizations so their communities can make the regions better places for young people to build their lives.

While Elda continues to grow her knowledge and skillsets, she hopes to advance with farm extensionist trainings so she can contribute to increased climate resilience and provide agricultural related services in her community. Committed to further developing as a community leader and thriving entrepreneur, she also oversees her family’s farm finances, serves as the secretary of her youth committee, and runs her tailor shop. During the weekends, she enjoys volunteering at her local church and teaching women of all age groups to sew clothing.