Ian Clarke is an Irish Ugandan, who has lived in Uganda for over thirty years. During that time his passion has been for development. He is a medical doctor and when he first came to Uganda he set up a church hospital in Kiwoko in the Luweero Triangle, a part of Uganda which was badly affected by the 1982 – 1986 civil war. Although he has worked mainly in the health and education sector, he realized the importance of the agricultural sector for development since 80% of Ugandans live in rural areas.
The main coffee crop in Uganda is Robusta and many smallholder farmers grow coffee, but the agricultural practices are poor, and the grade of coffee produced is low. This results in low prices for the farmers compared to farmers in Kenya. Clarke farm aims to be a model farm to demonstrate to local farmers how they can grow Robusta coffee, get higher yields and better quality, which then attracts higher prices.
Washing Robusta is not common, but promotes consistency and quality. The Clarke estate has the resources to facilitate this value adding process. The coffee perfectly with The Coffee Quest’s. values: transparency, collaboration and quality. We are proudly accepted washed Robusta coffees from Uganda as they scored more than our minimum R-grade requirement of 81 SCA points during our quality checks.
“Washed robusta is from a light farm, we also work with them, so the washed robusta process is similar to the wash arabica process. So basically, the farm workers harvest the cherries, they float them in water then they take the good cherries and then they are put in the pulping machine to be cleaned. The cherries are sun dried for about one week, then the beans are in the mill and that is basically the process.” – Tony Mugoya explained.
Clarks farm is one of the biggest Robusta coffee growing farms in Uganda with around 300 acreas of Robusta coffee planted and producing. Through his social mission, Ian Clarke’s strives to help smallholder farmers improve their practices, quality and prices. For this reason, in collaboration with the Uganda Authorities, he is transforming his commercial farm into a Hub Farm.
The Hub farm functions as a center of education, support and market acces for smallholder farmers in the region as Local farmer groups and outgrowers registered by the farm, can visit, access inputs and materials, and learn about best practices for coffee production. The workers on the farm benefit from improved skills in agronomy practices as they participate in the different activities on the coffee plantation which in turn can be applied on either their own farms or the farms they work on aside from the Clarke Farm.
Clarke Farm hires over 300 (three hundred) seasonal workers from around the area that take part in the different coffee plantation activities; planting, weeding, de-suckering, pruning, fertilizer application, watering and harvesting to mention but a few. All the activities do not happen simultaneously so we have different groups of people on the farm whenever an activity is taking place. The farm as a whole has about 50 permanent workers that live on the farm and cater to the farm’s daily needs across the different projects. This makes Clarke farm an important formal employer in the region, and so it contributes to the changes on the labor market for young and educated professionals in rural areas.
Being part of Uganda Coffee Farmers Alliance (UCFA) and Large Scale Coffee Farmers Association (LSCFA), Clarke Farm and all the other member growers aim to develop a circular agriculture farming model. Starting in coffee integrated with other agricultural products, combining international best practices and supporting neighbouring small scale farmers.
Knowledge exchange and sharing best production practices based on circular economy principles are key for the members, as well as the technology transfer in water management, irrigation, renewable energy and farm mechanization. Supporting coffee value addition initiatives and market access in the European Union and other destinations.
“For environmental sustainability we believe in environmental conservation. For that we are training farms in agronomy and smart farming approach, which means adopting climate resilience practice in coffee growing which includes planting overlapped shadowing plants, water retention practices, and ensuring water conservation on the coffee farmers. We also believe in biodiversity conservation, that means conserving the different species of plants and animals that are in the farm and surrounding it.” – Tony Mugoya explained
UCFA emphasizes no child labor in the farms, fair payment of workers according to the national standard and their working safety. Clarke Farm is one of the biggest robusta coffee growing farms in Uganda with upto 300 acres of Robusta coffee already established with a strong vision to expand.
Local farmer groups can visit the farm and learn best practices about coffee growing and producing. The workers on the farm, even just the seasonal ones, can take away some skills in agronomy practices as they participate in the different activities on the coffee plantation. The smallholder farmers can also take seedlings from us and during the harvest can bring their coffee to Clarke Farm for processing. This ensures that only the red cherry is processed which gives them a premium price for their harvest.
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Clarke Farm in Uganda produces quality washed Robusta every year. Read more about the cooperation which supports sustainability in Uganda’s coffee industry.
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