Martha Kisaka, 25 years old, easily stands out among the half a dozen male passion fruit farmers at the collection center in Bukhonzo village in Manafwa district, Eastern Uganda. The passion fruit collection center in Butiru town council is one of several where passion fruit growers sell their produce to a designated trader. Most of the passion fruit farmers at this collection center like Martha are beneficiaries of Swisscontact’s Local Skills Development for Youth (LSDY) project.
Being one of several enterprises supported by the project within the agribusiness sector, passion fruit farming has become a main source of income among youth in Eastern Uganda. Through its project partners, the project facilitated access to technical skills training, extension, inputs and market for 365 youth (138 female) who produced 476 tons of passion fruit worth UGX 1.43 million (CHF 397,041) in 2020.
Swisscontact has implemented the LSDY project during 2017-2020 in Eastern Uganda targeting 4,000 unemployed youth and young entrepreneurs (aged 18-30 years) with technical and entrepreneurial skills to increase their employability and entrepreneurship prospects in the agribusiness, construction and hospitality sector.
Martha is one of 1,854 women who have been empowered through the LSDY project. In 2019, Martha was encouraged to join Buhkama Arise and Shine Youth Group.
In her village, the project partnered with BECOFA, a private agribusiness company, to support passion fruit growers. The newly formed group was trained, and received seed and input loans. In addition to technical training in good agronomic practice, Martha acquired skill in entrepreneurship and business management, life skills, and leadership skills. Martha says she found the skills helpful.
Although Martha was new to passion fruit growing, it proved to be an ideal high value enterprise.
After 9 months, Martha began to harvest 8-12 Kilograms of passion fruit a week. In the first season alone, Martha harvested and sold passion fruit worth UGX 720,000 (CHF 178). Nowadays Martha says that she can afford to buy a full meal.
For women in Uganda like Martha, owning land is not easy due to socio-cultural restrictions. One of the main advantages of passion fruit over traditional crops is that it does not require large tracts of land to grow. Owing to this and its high market price, it is a viable enterprise for empowering women and a potential pathway for leading rural youth like Martha out of poverty.
Martha’s still hopes of completing nursing school and opening up her own drug shop one day.
The LSDY project is financed by Green Leaves Education Foundation, Happel Foundation, City of Zurich, Canton Basel-Stadt and private donations, and is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-finaced by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).