On the skirts of Mount Elgon, Uganda we head towards a passion fruit orchard.

Passion fruit orchards at Sironko

Passion fruit orchards at Sironko

This farm is among the many that has been developed as a result of the partnership between Technoserve and The Coca-Cola Company, implemented in Uganda in collaboration with Century Bottling Company, our local bottling partners.

The partnership has helped more than 17,000 mango and passion fruit farmers in Uganda to be trained in business and agriculture skills and implement sustainable agriculture practices.

Of these farmers 4,576 are women.

Zema Astar, passion fruit farmer with Project Nurture

Photo Credit: Mustafa Unlu

Zema K. Astar, a proud mother of 4 children and a fashion designer by training has received training by Technoserve and has been included in their networks giving her access to fruit markets from her home in Mbale. She said, “When I got into passion fruit, it was a new area and I didn’t know what to do or how to do it. Then I got to speak with Technoserve, who has partnered with Coca-Cola, and it has gone a long way to bringing me where I am today. The learning has been very good and my aim is to start projects that will encourage other people in the community and later other communities that can help them live a sustainable livelihood.”

Passion fruit harvesting lasts from March till November; giving Zema a monthly additional income to her fashion designing of approximately $130 per month.

Project Nurture team

Project Nurture team: Technoserve, Century
Bottling Company, Zema Astar and I

During our visit to her orchards, I was touched by her determination and future-thinking. She said that she would break-even next year, that her income has doubled since the initiation of farming and that next year she was looking to invest further by fencing and increasing the orchard from 3 acres to 5 acres with the encouragement from her trainings.

She is a source of inspiration for her community, family and other women. Zema said “When I started some people had a feeling that passion fruit wouldn’t work for the area. Recently a group of them came to see my gardens and said ‘This is wonderful, we didn’t think it would work, we’re also going to plant passion fruits’. My mother was very reluctant initially, but now she’s very supportive.” She added that the three key changes in her life have been “First, my income is better. Second, I have been exposed to more people, companies and other farmers thanks to networks. My morale and determination has boosted, I know now that the sky is the limit.”