It is said that "It never rains but it pours". This saying is so true as far as Bududa is concerned.
First, it was the landslides – mini and major - then the falling prices of coffee and now entire coffee plantations are wiped away.
This disaster that has struck Bududa and other districts surrounding Mt. Elgon is expected to impact on the Arabica coffee output and the disposable income of farmers this season.
In Bududa, hailstorms and mini-landslides have destroyed wide acreage of coffee trees in the sub-counties of Bushiyi, Bumayoka and Bukalasi this month. In Mbale district, mini-landslides swept away coffee plantations on the slope facing up Wanale Ridge in Bubyangu sub-county, while landslides destroyed more coffee trees in Tegeres, Kapchorwa district, recently.
As the harvest season for Arabica coffee drawers nearer, the severe drop in prices of coffee parchment is drawing concern from farmers in Bugisu and Sebei subregions.
Prices of parchment have kept a steady decline to sh3,000 per kg of premium parchment from sh4,800 in February and sh5,000 in January.
Ordinary parchment is trading at sh2,000 and sh2,400 per kg, depending on the quality, down from sh3,400 and sh3,600 per kg early this year.
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.