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Makerere University: A graduate’s story of paying tuition from coffee sale

By An Executive Editor

In May, Abdul-Swamadu Kikabu, graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at Makerere University’s 72nd graduation ceremony.

Graduate: Abdul-Swamadu Kikabu

Shortly after his graduation, Kikabu (in his graduation gown) tweeted a photo with his mother in a coffee plantation.

In the tweet, he said:

But like many who graduate, Kikabu has a story to tell.

His father and mother are entirely small scale coffee farmers in Gomba. According to Kikabu, the family grows coffee on 3 acres of land. 

“Dad and Mum are coffee farmers and they have been making money from that coffee,” Kikabu tells Kampala Gazette in an interview. Kikabu has 10 younger siblings.

Out of these (acres), however, harvests are usually a bag and are sold off at the farm before any value is added to the coffee.

Whereas the buyers (middlemen) are there, there is not a lot of money. Usually, this is about Shs 3,000 or less. Kikabu says the buyers then dry the coffee and sell to other big players.

While his siblings are still benefiting from coffee, Kikabu says that paying tuition from coffee sales was not easy.

“Coffee has a season. If it’s not its season, you have to struggle. You have to keep on trying,” Kikabu says.

This meant that life on campus was a bit harder.

 “Mine wasn’t easy. You have to miss lectures looking for money,” Kikabu recalls.

But besides low prices of coffee and all, Kikabu says the soils are less fertile and as such, they use organic fertilizers.

Whereas he wants the government to consider better prices for coffee, Kikabu says that he is continuing to sensitize his parents about value addition so that they can earn more money from coffee.

Kikabu tells students finding difficulty in financing their education to “keep on trying” (okulemerako).

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