We’re growing organic chillies!
What’s the plan?
- Immediately (as in today & tomorrow) find 1000 farmers who are interested in growing 1/4 to 1/2 acre of organic chillies. We’re aiming for 400 acres to begin with, but we’ll increase it to thousands if farmers are keen.
- The ginnery has bought the seeds, and will plant nurseries out in the villages
- We’ll train farmers to re-plant seedlings, cultivate chilli trees, harvest (wearing gloves!) and dry the chillies
- We’ll set up a network of buying agents, just like we do for cotton, who will use our money to buy chillies, bulk them, store them, and then we’ll transfer them to the ginnery…
- ….where we’ll grade, sort, pack, and sell
What’re the challenges?
- The organic chilli market is small; we might not always find premium-priced buyers. At least the farmers’ production costs are virtually nil - free seeds, little to no weeding or spraying, sun-powered drying after harvest, so even at a non-organic price its good money.
- For chillies, farmers need to harvest regularly, little-by-little as the chillies ripen, not like cotton which can picked all in just a few days. Its a different mindset which we need to train.
- The rains have already begun! We need to move fast to get the seedlings in the ground… and not waste time like yesterday, when we ploughed nursery land on the outskirts of Gulu, only to decide in the early evening that creating the nurseries out in the villages makes much more sense!
And where will it get us?
- For the farmers: a profitable crop to add to their farm; lower risk from one single crop failing or having low prices; smoother cash flow, drip-feeding money when the cotton cash has all been spent.
- For the ginnery: a profitable business; even stronger relationships with our organic farmers
- …And for me, the satisfaction of seeing something that I planned and secured funding for getting going!
Centurio arranging Peter’s shadow to make sure our seed beds are facing the sun
Weighing out 3kgs of 4 inch nails which we’ll use to create the seedling shelters
Loading bamboo and 4m palm poles onto the pick up - our raw materials for the seedling shelters