Uganda's coffee exports rose 56 percent in the year to May, after farmers sold huge volumes to prevent further losses as prices for the bean tumbled, a source at the state-run Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) said on Wednesday.
The UCDA source said Uganda exported 393,783-kg bags of coffee in May, up from 252,548 bags shipped in the same period last year.
"Prices both at the international level and locally have been declining in recent months and I think farmers are not optimistic," said David Muwonge, marketing and production manager at National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE).
Coffee farming especially in central region has been affected by coffee wilt for the past few years. Many coffee farmers had abandoned the growing of coffee and changed to other crops which were not affected by the wilt disease.
However farmers in Mukono, Luwero and Nakaseke have now turned to sprinkling methods in order to fight the coffee wilt disease.
Lawrence Zikusooka a farmer in Zirobwe said that for three years most of the coffee plants in his farm were affected by the wilt.
“I made lots of losses when one acre of my coffee plantation was attacked by the wilt disease. I even abandoned it and started growing other crops in order to sustain my family,” he said.
Plans have been finalised to help Coffee farmers in the Rwenzori region access pre-harvest loans to curb the practice of picking unripe coffee berries.
The move is intended to improve the quality of coffee produced in the region in order to attract better prices on the international market.
This decision was reached during a meeting on Monday between representatives of four international companies dealing in buying and processing of coffee and officials from the Rwenzururu Nyabaghole Foundation for Development [RWENFOD].
The meeting was brokered by the Grate Lakes Coffee Company in coordination with the US-based Fare Trade Company and held at the formers offices in Kasese town.
Uganda revised an earlier forecast of its coffee exports in the 2012/13 season to 3.2 million 60-kg bags from a year ago on good weather and increased coffee acreage, a the Ugandan Coffee Development Authority said on Monday.
The east African country had said in October that its exports would rise by 11 percent to 3 million bags. Uganda's coffee season runs from October to September.
"We have had remarkably favourable weather marked by good rains interspersed with dry episodes throughout all the growing areas which has certainly helped in ensuring a good crop this season," Norman Mutekanga, manager for Strategy and Development at the Uganda Coffee Development Authority, told Reuters.
The senior presidential advisor on poverty alleviation, Ms Joan Kakwenzire, has advised the people of Nakaseke District to utilise their land by engaging in commercial farming activities, saying it is possible to eliminate household poverty through agriculture.
She made the remarks yesterday at Kikyusa Model Parish in Semuto Sub-county where she distributed about 60,000 coffee seedlings to farmers to enable them take up coffee growing.
The seedlings were from President Museveni to boost farming in the district. Ms Kakwenzire also disclosed that the President's donation of Shs150 million for farmers had been released, adding that another offer of 100 Friesian cows and 100 goats for farmers in Kikyusa Model Parish was also ready.