Bukomansimbi residents sleep outdoors to safeguard 'lucrative' coffee

Bukomansimbi residents sleep outdoors to safeguard 'lucrative' coffee
Manisuli Lubwama shows his coffee berries | Zainab Ssengendo

Residents of Bukomansimbi, a rural district in Uganda renowned for coffee production, have taken to sleeping outside their homes to protect their valuable cash crops.

The unprecedented move comes as coffee prices soar to new heights this season, prompting fears of increased theft.

Manisuli Lubwama, a farmer from Lukuuku village in Butenga Subcounty who has specialised in coffee growing for five years now, told Nile Post that in this season he is expecting to harvest between 700kg and 1,000kg of KASE (processed coffee) in his two acres of land.

As of now, in Bukomansimbi farmers said, a kilogramme of KASE costs Shs12,000, that of Kibooko costs Shs26,200, and a tin of Kakuta costs Shs40,000.

The decision to sleep outdoors, effectively establishing a round-the-clock surveillance against thieves, stems from a collective concern among farmers regarding the safety of their coffee harvests.

With the current market demand driving prices to unprecedented levels, the risk of theft has become a pressing issue for the community, known for its reliance on coffee cultivation as a primary source of income.

"We have worked tirelessly to nurture our coffee plants, and we cannot afford to lose our hard-earned income to thieves," said Manisuli Lubwama, a local farmer in Bukomansimbi.

"By sleeping outside, we are sending a clear message that we are united in protecting our livelihoods."

Coffee berries in a farm in Bukomansimbi | Zainab Ssengendo

The practice of community policing, as it has been dubbed, involves residents taking turns to monitor fields and homesteads throughout the night, keeping a vigilant eye out for any signs of intrusion or suspicious activity.

The initiative has garnered widespread support, with volunteers from all walks of life, including women and youth, actively participating in the nightly patrols.

"We are not just guarding our coffee; we are safeguarding our future," said Joseph Kamuli, the LC3 chairperson Kitanda Sub-county.

Faridah Nassaazi, from Bukomansimbi Town Council a mother of three who has been actively involved in the initiative, said for many of them, coffee is not just a crop.

"It's what puts food on the table and sends our children to school. We cannot afford to let it be stolen or destroyed," she said.

Local authorities have commended the community for their proactive approach to protecting their agricultural assets.

District chairperson Fred Nyenje Kayiira praised the residents' resilience and called for continued cooperation between farmers and law enforcement to ensure the success of the initiative.

"This grassroots effort exemplifies the power of community unity in tackling challenges," Nyenje said. "We stand ready to support the residents of Bukomansimbi in their efforts to safeguard their livelihoods and promote economic prosperity."

As the sun sets over the lush coffee fields of Bukomansimbi, residents prepare for another night of vigilance, knowing that their collective efforts are not only preserving their coffee harvest but also strengthening the bonds of community resilience and solidarity.

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