Thursday, June 20, 2024
Home Change Makers How Lumbuye Reaps Big From Cocoa Growing 

How Lumbuye Reaps Big From Cocoa Growing 

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Umar Nsubuga

Stephen Lumbuye is the proud owner of a five-acre cocoa farm which is one of the family’s main sources of livelihood.

The farm is located in Kiyuni village, Katente parish in Mubende district.

He says cocoa can be interplanted with matooke (bananas) and coffee.

With cocoa, Lumbuye says spacing is important and the ideal is 3m x 3m (10ft x 10ft) and the planting hole 2ft x 2ft deep and wide. 

“Manure can be applied. Each acre takes 350-400 plants,” he says.

“When you are to start a cocoa project, it’s important to first plant trees because cocoa needs shade, and you have to intercrop it with plants like coffee,” he says.

It is important to prune the cocoa tree during the early stages. Cocoa requires filtered sunlight through trees. Sustainable management of shade trees like Musizi and breadfruit allows the farmer to earn extra income from timber and fruits. It also maintains or increases cocoa bean production each year, he explains.

Ready market

Lumbuye has progressed from a small farmer with one acre of cocoa to the current five acres. 

“When I had just started, cocoa was not very expensive,” he says.

Challenges

The fact that cocoa is edible exposes it to attack from squirrels, monkeys and baboons. 

“I have hired staff to patrol the plantation, but it is hard to monitor the movements of vermin given the vast acreage of the plantation,” Lumbuye says.

Humans also eat the ripe seeds. Like other crops, cocoa is attacked by pests and diseases, which cause swellings and patches on the stems. The affected plants are cut down and burnt. Such attacks affect yields by over 60%.

Opportunities

Cocoa is used in the manufacture of chocolate and powder that is added to drinks. It is fortified with vitamins, which have many health benefits, making it a marketable commodity worldwide.

Since Lumbuye became prominent, he has inspired many to join the trade. Mubende district, for example, now boasts of 500 farmers.

How to grow cocoa

Cocoa is one of the oldest cash crops in Uganda. It is propagated by seeds and when mature, cocoa reaches over eight feet high and bears yellowish-red pods from the base of the stem upwards.

Amaranado, Upper Amazon and Prinitario are the common varieties grown in Uganda. Amaranado originated from Brazil and has a blunt bottom, Amazon has a sharp bottom, while Prinitario has red pods.

Cocoa farming is a business that requires one to have ample land.

However, it can be intercropped before the trees are five feet tall.

Lumbuye explains that cocoa is not friendly to open spaces and does well in trees, thus it is an agroforestry crop.

He says self-mulching is one of the advantages of cocoa growing. “Its leaves drop and form a mulching coat and one may take around six months without weeding,” the retired public servant says.

From planting to harvest, cocoa can take three to four years to bear pods and eventually harvest. Each tree, according to Lumbuye, yields every month, enabling the farmer to harvest all year round. 

“Cocoa is unique. One can harvest twice a month unlike coffee, which has only two harvests a year,” he says.

LEAD PHOTO CAPTION: Lumbye in his cocoa garden. Photo by Umar Nsubuga

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