KadAfrica Uses Passion Fruit Farming to Empower Girls In Uganda
There is no disputing that the plight of the African woman is not only real but complex because of its historical context. This is especially true when it comes to land rights. The land is the economy and women seldom inherit land which means they are at a disadvantage in many ways. According to the Global Policy Organisation, Ugandan women provide 70-80% of agricultural and food production labor but only own between 7-20% of the lands. This disturbing statistic is one of the reasons behind KadAfrica, an agribusiness whose main focus is empowering women between 14 and 25 years through passion fruit farming.
In a dramatic shift, Marketing exec Eric Kaduru left the corporate world and went into agriculture with his wife. They were immediately struck by the state of agriculture in rural Uganda. The biggest cause for concern was the struggle of farmers who were at the mercy of traders and price manipulation as well as the implications of subsistence farming had on the girl child in Uganda. That started the journey to what has today developed into a multi-faceted entity called KadAfrica. KadAfrica promotes a co-operative style of farming in which they provide young women with seedling and other agricultural inputs then they buy back the produce. During the 6 month gestation period of passion fruit, the girls take part in the KadAfrica experience which is an empowerment program that teaches financial literacy, advocacy, life skills, entrepreneurship, health, and hygiene.
Why Passion fruit? Well, besides it being a very profitable fruit in Uganda, it has a long shelf life and it grows vertically. This leaves land open for ground-dwelling crops so farmers can feed their families while generating income through the surplus of passion fruit. Genius, right? According to Eric, the dynamic in the households has changed and there has been an overarching improvement in the lives of families benefitting from KadAfrica.
The story of how KadAfrica began working with various religious organizations is one for the history books. While looking for land, Eric realised that the Catholic church, one of the biggest landowners in Uganda, had idle land that could be put to us. Thus began a partnership that would inspire other community interest groups to partner with KadAfrica too. Other key partnerships the enterprise has made include one with local municipal authorities which have spurred them into expanding their reach into refugee camps. Uganda holds an estimated refugee population of 1.3 million refugees who need assistance such as the one KadAfrica provides.
In case you are wondering what happens to all that passion fruit KadAfrica purchases, the pulp is sold to key partners such as Coca-Cola, The Britannica Group, hoteliers and other big operators in the juice industry. KadAfrica has added a factory to its portfolio and in a bid to complement its fresh fruit business, the enterprise has also started adopting a zero-waste model. Fertilizer and animal feed are being made from the passion fruit shells while they are in the process of pressing the seed into an essential oil that is sought after in the cosmetics industry.
One of the biggest lessons for Eric throughout this entrepreneurial journey has been the importance of having the right team and the right expertise. Rather than practicing what he calls “Google farming”, Eric believes KadAfrica could have avoided a lot of headaches and mishaps if they had roped in an Agricultural expert at an early stage. The plight of the girl child in Uganda has been transformed by KadAfrica and we hope the Agribusiness keeps soaring and changing communities, one young woman at a time!
Listen to my full interview with Eric here: