Successful Stories

Kyakimwa Hellen aged 35 years, has been growing cotton for the last 3 years she is a member of  Rwenzori farmers marketing cooperative LTD. Hellen is from Nyamisule , Mahango sub county and she has  4 children who are in school. She has spent 3 years growing cotton, last season Hellen harvested 300 kgs costing 450,000 Ugandan shillings. She said Hellen has achieved a lot from growing cotton and she told her side of the story.’’  ‘’We work as a family but do not involve children since they are in school and they are not supposed to work on the cotton garden according to the child labour pledge that we signed’’. I work with my husband; we alternate with my husband to take care of the children and the garden. I and my husband   have got income from the cotton sales that enabled us by a plot, I have plans to construct a house so far I have bricks and iron sheets’’.

On the same note she has gained knowledge and skills through trainings in agronomic practices and fair trade. Before joining the cooperative Hellen said’’ I would sell my cotton while in the garden and lose track of profits but today I can now sell my cotton at once and get income that can support my family’’. She says ‘’my children were not regularly in school, lacked scholastic materials but I can now plan for my children education and ensure they stay and complete school’’. She adds that she did not have a house of her own, she was renting  whenever she come to cultivate cotton in Kirembe but now she  has her  own home thanks to TJX program.  Hellen said the quality of cotton has improved due to trainings and constant spraying of pests, she said before she used to harvest 300kgs at cost of 2000 per Kg and would earn like 600,000 shillings. She appreciated TJX program that has enabled them get  fair trade markets where a  second payment  can be got something that we had never heard of in the history of cotton growing .This has helped us buy seeds, pesticides and planning for collective marketing. She also appreciates the transparency in the cooperative that motivates the members. Hellen Kyakimwa is a treasurer for Nyamisule zone in the cooperative and the brother is a board member of Nyamisule primary school. She says it has been interesting and a learning experience for her as a member of the cooperative and she has gained a lot through trainings and increased income.  Apart from cotton growing Hellen Kyakimwa owns a small retail shop and she is also investing in coffee growing. Hellen explained that production of cotton this season has not been the best, it was evaded with pests and climate change issues despite spraying three times hence affecting the production both in quantity and quality . Hellen would like to see her children get a educated to higher level, she appreciates the support TJX  has given and requests for more support in terms of business opportunities (Contracts) to enable the farmers sell all their cotton through the coop.

Mary Mubatsi aged 36 years is from Kihungu –Kyarumba Sub County, she has 6 children (4 males and 2 females).  Mary was reached to share her story on how she has benefited from cotton growing and TJX program. Mary has this to say about her success story ‘’   I have been a member of the cooperative for 5 years, I have spent five years growing cotton, the last season I harvested 800 kgs earning 1,200,000 from the cotton, this was due to improved farming methods that I and my husband acquired from Rwenzori farmers marketing cooperative.’’ We work as a family with my husband and this has improved our relationship and income. Mubatsi said, the quality of cotton   has improved compared to the years before TJX interventions. Unlike when our cotton was subjected to low prices due to influence from land lords that hired us land, Mubatsi and the husband now own their own land .’’ Mubatsi said she had learnt how to handle cotton and also spraying it 3 times thanks to the trainings in agronomic practices. ‘’

Before TJX support I had never been involved in cotton growing, thanks to their support I have 5 years experience in cotton growing and my position on the Board as Treasurer will expose  me more on how business is run from the garden up to export level   ’’ Mubatsi narrates.

Mubatsi said ‘’In these five years I and my husband have managed to buy 2 acres of land, constructed 3 roomed house, educated my children bought 1 pig and a goat’’. I was struggling with life before I joined the cooperative especially educating my children and having developments in my home, my relationship with my husband  was not good, I also had little knowledge on birth control/spacing unlike today when now plan for birth plan, I used to be shy and hardly spoke in public’’ Thanks to TJX which has empowered me with leadership skills, today Iam now empowered, Iam peaceful and I can now speak in public, I can now keep records and practice  family planning’’, before I was not a good planner for the income I used to get, I used to spend all my income without a budget and on non development things.  I have also improved development in my home I can now educate my children

 and my children stay in school with hope that they will complete school. Mubatsi said that she has benefited from fair trade through a better market and premium funds for the community for instance in my community fair-trade contribution has built for the school where my children study a pit latrine supporting ours the parents, she has also learnt rights, child labour policy , records keeping especially through the craft group.  Mary said there is still low production due to poor farming methods and climatic changes. She also said’’ there are still many people interested in cotton farming; however, they lack capital to hire land and farm extensively’’.

She concludes saying ‘’I appreciate TJX for the support in terms of business development, the women appreciate TJX for buying their handcraft, they appreciate the water something that used to stress the women given the distance they would walk, and for buying the cotton. TJX has changed my life and Iam now empowered’’.