Hi friends and partners,
As a new mother myself, reading the stories about the incredible women below took my breath away. Kitalibara Base, Asiimwe Alice, and Biira Jowani are goddess level; they farm their own cacao plots and are raising large families, which means they rise early daily to go do hard work on their farm and then come back to cook and take care of their families. All three of these women are Ugandan and are just a few of the 483 women farmers whose crop is purchased by Latitude Trade Co for our Semuliki Forest cacao.
Women play critical roles in cacao production as farmers, harvesters, processors, buyers, and householder caretakers enabling others to work; yet the exceptional efforts and talents of women in cocoa are rarely acknowledged. We are thrilled to partner with Latitude in sourcing from Uganda because of their focus on clearing barriers for women and opening up opportunities for women and mothers to not just participate in the supply chain but hold leadership positions and thrive.
Please read on to learn about three extraordinary women in Uganda. Wishing a very happy Mother's Day to them and to all of the hardworking mothers out there, biological or otherwise!
Meet Kitalibara Base! She is a cacao producer in Uganda who sells to Latitude Trade Co for their Semuliki Forest cacao. She has been growing cocoa for 25 years on a plot of 2.5 acres. She started growing cocoa out of her own initiative, as she knew the crop would increase her income compared to other options, and it would help her pay the school fees and food for her family. She is a grandmother to 6 grandchildren, and she goes out to the farm first thing in the morning to do her farm activities and makes it back home in time to prepare breakfast for her grandchildren. The activity she enjoys most on the cocoa farm is weeding. She appreciates the additional income from cocoa, and since the death of her husband, she can now decide for herself how to spend her earnings. On top of all of her work running the family cacao farm and taking care of her grandchildren, she also raises pigs for sale at the local market. We are inspired by Kitalibara’s passion, dedication, and entrepreneurial spirit! Thank you Kitalibara for all you do.
Please meet Asiimwe Alice, the mother of 8 children (5 boys, 3 girls). She has been farming cocoa for 10 years on her 2 acre plot, and was originally taught how to grow the crop by her father in law. Similarly to Kitalibara, she wakes up early in the morning to tend to the cocoa “garden,” and then comes back to take care of her children. She shared with Latitude in this interview that before she sold to them, it was harder for her to pay for school fees and food. With the stable income that she can now count on by selling her cocoa to Latitude, she has been able to cover her childrens’ school fees and her family has been able to purchase solar panels for their house as well as a new piece of land. Asiimwe Alice, thank you for your inspiring work! 8 kids and a 2 acre cocoa farm is no joke, and we applaud you!
Biira Jowani learned how to grow cocoa from her father. Once she started producing and selling the crop, she was determined to continue because it secured her livelihood and enabled her to pay the school fees for her four children. She most enjoys the weeding and “garden tending” aspect of cocoa farming, and finds pruning the trees to be the most challenging. She has hired workers to help her with this demanding task. Biira Jowani is an early riser, making it out to the farm to do her work before coming back to take care of her children. Lots to juggle as a working mother! She mentioned that she chooses to sell to Latitude because of their accurate buying scales, as opposed to other companies in the region. She also appreciates that Latitude pays farmers a good price directly. Thank you, Biira Jowani, for your example of strength and leadership! We’re inspired by your hard work by your beautifully cared-for cocoa garden!