When Mike Tabosi dropped out of school in 1991, he thought that was the end of his life. Tabosi's father had died in 1975 when he was six years old and his mother was unable to continue paying his school fees.
The light at the end of the channel came from sh400 he had got from selling the maize he had planted, he joined the coffee business. That year, the price of coffee was at sh21 per kilo.
However, in 1992 the price shot up to sh71 per kilo. From the small plot of land (1/4 acre) he inherited from his father, he planted 15 Arabic coffee trees and continued to trade in coffee.
In 1995, he planted 100 more trees of coffee. He earned sh52,000 and he used it to get married and construct a grass-thatched house. Tabosi maintained his coffee trees well and harvested good yields, which he sold to Kyagalanyi Coffee Ltd in Mbale.
"I used the profits to buy more land and expand my coffee shamba to the current 1,000 trees," he says. Last year, he was among the top 10 suppliers of coffee in Mbale. He harvested 114,430kg and was awarded a heifer by Kyagalanyi Coffee Ltd. Tabosi is pleased with his progress.
"I started with 15 coffee trees in a space that would otherwise be useless and my effort is paying off," he says. How to plant, manage coffee
To plant Arabica coffee, one has to consider the altitude of the land and the soil type. The higher the altitude, the better the quality of the beans and taste.
"Arabica coffee grows best at an altitude of 1,200m to 2,000m above sea level," says Mike Maliro, the principal development officer of Uganda Coffee Development Authority.
l For successful production, a free draining system of one meter in depth is required. Identify and prepare the land, prepare the holes at a spacing of 2.4m x 2.4m. The holes should have a diameter and depth 2ft.
Use healthy plants with dark green, well-formed foliage.
Arabica coffee is ready for harvesting three years after planting. But when the plants have spent about 10 years, it is recommended that one cuts them down so that new ones sprout. Unless trees are renewed, yields will decline over the following years. Yields will average 650kg of parchment bean per acre depending on management.