Coffee production in Uganda is expected to increase this year following intervention by aBi Trust through its coffee Value Chain Development programme.
aBi’s Value Chain Development programmes are aimed at supporting the Private Sector by building a self sustaining Competitiveness and Investment Climate Strategy in Uganda.
Coffee is Uganda’s traditional cash crop grown in most parts of the country by small holder farmers and a few large scale farmers, associations or organizations. It is a high impact crop on the incomes of households and is steadily grown for a specialized market.
Teopista Nakkungu, the Coffee Development Officer at aBi Trust said that interventions by aBi will in the long run build a self sustaining export led economy for the benefit of all Ugandans.
aBi Trust supports coffee interventions due to the crop’s growing demand and potential as a foreign exchange earner due to the fact that it is among the top priority crops that Government is promoting among farmers as a cash crop, explained Nakkungu.
She added that in the financial year 2014/15, Uganda earned USD449 million from coffee, affirming the potential of the crop to the growth of the economy.
Nankungu explained that aBi decided to intervene after realizing that the coffee sector was faced with challenges ranging from low quality coffee, lack of market, limited access to improved seeds and agro inputs, low consumption of coffee locally among others.
The interventions in the coffee value chain, according to Nakkungu are financed to improve the performance of the crop focusing on production and productivity, quality enhancement, value addition, market development and access, improving the accessibility of agro inputs and plant materials to farmers in addition to promoting coffee consumption culture in Uganda.
This is done through creating projects and capacity building through training, provision of quality and the necessary tools needed in coffee farming with an aim of increasing coffee yields.
As a result, a total of 40 projects have been implemented, over 70,000 farmer household have been reached, over 10 business plans from SMEs are being supported, Centers of Excellence (CoE) established and Coffee Wilt Disease Resistant(CWDr) clean planting material is being produced using the Tissue culture laboratory among other achievements.
Besides the above,3,000 demonstrations cites have been established with experts to support the farmers in learning best practices needed in coffee production right from the nursery to the point of sale, added Nakkungu.
Statistics from aBi Trust indicate that the coffee sector employs a total of 1.2 million farmers and this has reduced house hold poverty among those families. Gender issues are improving while farmers are incorporating climate-smart agricultural tactics through Green Growth initiatives introduced to them.
When it comes to yields by tree, there is a general increases in average yield the two types of coffee; for Arabica coffee, farmers now harvest at least 0.5 kilograms of the red cherries per tree, and for Robusta coffee, a farmer is capable of harvesting at least 1.5 to 8 kilograms per tree of red cherries.
Average acreage of participating farmers has also increased from 0.5 to at least 2 acres. Average outcome has also improved from 45% to 58 % (Kiboko to FAQ) and exportable grades have improved from 78% to at least 85%, of which the target for Robusta coffee is 95 %.
aBi has further supported the provision of clean planting materials, over 40 coffee nurseries have been supported and licensed to produce and sell clean planting materials, established mother gardens and one tissue culture laboratory with the capacity of 2 million seedlings per anum.
Farmers have also been trained over the years on how to handle coffee to ensure quality. In addition 12 central washing stations have established, plus 6 motorized pulper to help in wet coffee processing, supported secondary grading facilities, and 3 primary processing facilities among others.
Nakkungu however adds that despite the progress made in coffee sector so far, there is still a challenge of low uptake of production and quality enhancement technologies, price volatility, which makes marketing hard, adverse effects of climate change, low skills uptake among farmers, unstable exchange rate which leads to high cost of farm inputs among others.
The other challenge is inadequate extension staff to promote Good Agricultural Practices(GAP) and address quality issues, coupled with pests and diseases like the twig borer and coffee wilt disease to mention but a few.
aBi was founded by Governments of Denmark and Uganda and is funded by DANIDA, SIDA, USAID, UKaID, EU and Kfw