If you look beyond Stella’s frail physique you will see an abundance of infinite strength and determination in her eyes…

In the year 2007, life struck Stella a devastating blow with the loss of her husband who was the family’s main bread winner. In spite of the circumstances, Stella tapped into her inner strength and vowed to make sure her only daughter continued going to school until at least senior four. The best way to make this possible was for Stella to move back to her parent’s home in Kyalugondo village from Kampala. Once there, she would tend to her inherited portion of her late father’s coffee farm in order to raise the money for her daughter’s school fees.

Stella’s list of dependents grew as soon as she moved back home as she needed to bear the expense of caring for her elderly mother and her orphaned nieces and nephews. In order to immediately begin generating income, Stella began selling pancakes and bananas in the local market as well as doing clothing alterations for community members. These businesses in addition to her coffee farm gradually began to improve Stella’s circumstances and restore her hope.

In 2017, Stella made another strategic move in a bid to transform her life. She volunteered her coffee farm to be a demonstration plot where Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) are implementing and validating the Climate Smart Investment Pathway – also known as Stepwise.

Stepwise is a tool which was developed by IITA under the Feed the Future Alliance for Resilient Coffee (ARC) project which is a consortium of seven organizations; HRNS, IITA, World Coffee Research, Conservation International, Sustainable Food Lab, Root Capital and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). These organizations collectively aim to make coffee farming and sourcing climate smart in four prominent coffee growing countries; Uganda, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Stepwise practically demonstrates CSA practices by breaking them down into simple subsets which can be implemented incrementally according to farmers’ financial means meaning it is affordable and feasible. The CSA practices included in the Stepwise stages being implemented in Luwero are; weeding, de-suckering, pruning, manure application, mulching, fertilizer application and pesticide application.

As a direct result of being able to host the Stepwise program on her coffee farm, Stella has received a wealth of knowledge and skills on good agronomical practices and climate-smart agriculture which has enabled her to increase her yields and income. She has also become a role model and example to fellow farmers in her community and frequently trains them on how to strengthen their resilience against the continuously changing climatic and environmental conditions.

Although Stella still faces many challenges like not having enough money to hire part time labors to assist with the farm work or meet the costs of buying agricultural inputs – she can still smile at her future with optimism. Her dream is to one day own her own land, build a house and have a coffee farm where she will plant improved varieties and continue to support her dependents as well as occasionally spoil her grandchildren. In case you were wondering, Stella’s daughter did in fact finish form four and is now happily married with two children who are the apple of their grandmother’s eye!

It’s Bean Too Hot: A filmmaker’s journey to Tanzania

About the author: Hedvika Michnová is currently finalizing her studies in Marine and Natural History Photography at Falmonth University in the UK. In addition to her broad experience in photography and filmmaking, she is also passionate about open water diving,...

Transforming Mindsets to Achieve Sustainable Livelihoods

When development projects come to an end, final Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is done to prove the impact of the projects. However, many may argue that statistics do not fully quantify the extent to which lives are changed. They do not tell you how much it means...

Rural youth can improve their lives – HRNS Tanzania has proven it

As the average age of coffee producers in Tanzania is about 55 years old, one of Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung’s (HRNS’s) priorities is to unleash the potential of youth within the coffee and agriculture sector. We use participatory training methods such as Youth Farmer...

HRNS Joins the Cool Farm Alliance

Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) has joined a powerful community of climate change fighters in a network called the Cool Farm Alliance (CFA). HRNS officially became a member of the alliance in February 2021, and by doing so has joined forces with over 100...

Battling climate change using creative and cost-effective methods in Uganda

As a child, Ivan Ssembajwe a young coffee farmer from the plush countryside of Luwero, Uganda, would keenly watch his grandmother and mother tiling the land day in and day out to grow crops for sustenance and income. With every changing season and passing year, Ivan’s...

Sewing Rural Youths Future: Nalubowa Ruth

“I dropped out of school because I couldn’t pay the tuition fees at the age of 18”, remembers Ruth “I then started picking coffee as farmworker to earn some money.” Ruth is now 25 years old and lives in Mityana, Uganda. Her aim has been to take a tailoring...

“The Alarm Clock is Ringing!”: coffee&climate’s Webinar “Missed Wake-Up Call” Emphasizes Urgency to Act Against Climate Change

“Stop hitting snooze! The alarm clock is ringing!”, was the motto of the webinar “Missed Wake-Up Call” organized by the initiative for coffee&climate last week. Stefan Ruge, Program Manager Climate at HRNS, discussed together with climate scientist Dr. Peter Baker...

Agriculture as Opportunity for Rural Youth in Uganda

Dorothy and Moses are among 90 other youth who proudly flashed their smiles and certificates in September 2021 after completing their one-year course in the Kaweri Youth Development Project (KYDP) which is implemented by Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) in Mubende...

HRNS warns of COVID-19 long-term effects for smallholder families in coffee regions

The Coronavirus pandemic contributes to existing problems, smallholder coffee farmer families are already facing, and poses a serious threat to household development plans, food security, business and income. This is a key finding from a survey, conducted by Hanns R....

The Journey Continues: Young Ugandans Transforming Their Lives and Communities

Join Shivan, the young reporter pictured above as she continues to bring you powerful youth stories from Uganda through this vlog series.Thank you for joining us once again as we dive into the lives and journeys of four youth who are part of the TeamUp Uganda project...