Cultivating the success of mothers like Lubaba nourishes a family

If I had not attended the training, it would have been very difficult for me to raise my kids or create my business.”

— Lubaba Mekonnen, Coffee Farmer 

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in 2020 and was updated in Feb 24, 2021. Eight years ago, when Lubaba Mekonnen joined a TechnoServe program working with coffee farmers in her community, she was looking for a different path in life. The then 24-year-old from the highlands of western Ethiopia had already been through more challenges than many people twice her age.

had her first child when she was just 15 years old, and her second a few years later. She married young and soon learned that her new husband was not supportive of the family. In 2010, she left the relationship even though she knew it would be difficult to be a single parent of two young children.

With the Impact of Coffee, Comes a New Life

She heard about a TechnoServe program that offered hope. Seeing an opportunity to start a new life with her kids, she decided to join and learn about coffee farming. In the program, she learned important techniques that would help her maximize the quantity and improve the quality of her coffee.

I took many trainings from TechnoServe and learned how to grow coffee, manage farmland, and increase productivity,” for example, we learned how to collect only red cherries and deliver them to the wet mill.”
–Lubaba Mekonnen

The process of collecting only the ripe coffee cherries is known as selective harvesting. This system is more labor-intensive than strip harvesting, where all of the coffee cherries are harvested at the same time, but typically earns coffee farmers better prices.

Hard Work Equals Success

Lubaba now earns almost $1,000 on average from her coffee production, a 200% increase from what she initially earned before she joined the program. As Lubaba started earning more, she was able to hire two day laborers to help with the farm, allowing her to spend more time with her children.

Her son, Mohammed Jamal, is 17 now and plans to attend university next year. When asked about the changes he has seen over the years, he smiles. “She started managing her coffee farm very well and she started getting more income,” he recalls. “I have been able to learn and go to school, which helps me a lot. This is one of the opportunities that I got from her involvement in the cooperative.”

Lubaba beams when she talks about her son, “I will help him go to the university and continue to learn.” Mohammed wants to be a doctor, but more than anything, he wants to support his mother.

My mother sacrificed a lot for me. In the future, I will take over all of her roles and responsibilities. I want to make her take a break and relax to live a good and better life.”
— Mohammed Jamal

You can make a difference in the lives of coffee farmers like Lubaba. Help other farmers by donating $100.

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