Ronald Ssenyondo has grown has grown coffee as his sole source of income for most of his adult life. But in 2000, Ssenyondo's coffee returns began to go on a downward spiral that continued for the following two years. When he eventually decided that a reversal of his coffee farm's fortunes had begun to look unachievable due to six started to contemplate a move from coffee farming. "I was planning to give up coffee farming and look at other alternatives such as poultry keeping," explained Ssenyondo, a resident of Kalungu District.
New coffee campaign starts to pay off
However, in 005 when Ssenyondo wanted to start poultry keeping, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority(UCDA) was finalizing plans of launching a new initiative to rehabilitate old coffee trees that had been affected by the wilt disease .UCDA later partnered with other players to export about four million (60kg bags) of coffee by 2015.
Uganda's coffee exports rose 34.5 percent year-on-year in February to 328,643 60-kg bags on favourable weather and greater stock availability, the state-run Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) said on Tuesday.
"The higher exports were driven by two factors: we had a dry weather which helped in quickening the drying process for the beans and also since students were going back to school, farmers released more than the usual amount of stocks to earn enough money to get school fees," said a source at UCDA.
Coffee harvest is underway in the east African nation's central and eastern regions, which account for 55 percent of production of the beans in Africa's top coffee exporter.
From New Vision
Football and coffee farming trainings in Uganda
Nsangi Farmers Association, partner of the Progreso program, is a producer organization committed to the improvement of the living conditions of its members. Aging farmers and lack of interest of the young generation in coffee production is a very important issue for the sustainability of the coffee sector in Uganda.
Burundi may be the smallest among the five countries in the East African Community (EAC), but stands out as the giant in environmental conservation and management.
Farmers have been mobilised and taught about soil erosion control measures. Particularly, growing trees on hills and slopes. Large tracts of land in this largely hilly country have been cultivated. There are thousands of hectares of eucalyptus trees, bananas, coffee, maize and cassava.
Lots of lessons
Environmental experts from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda were impressed by Burundi's success story. During a five-day visit under the auspices of the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project (LVEMP-II), the officials noted the environment conservation efforts, via mobilisation of communities, designing programmes and effectively implementing them.
Agnes Tobterik, a director in Kenya's State Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said she was impressed by the greening of the mountain and hill tops with eucalyptus trees, grass-banding, construction of ridges/contours and terracing to control soil erosion.
"We have learnt a lot of lessons here, especially how the government and the people are addressing environmental challenges...... partly through good agricultural practices." Tobterik said at a press briefing in Gitega, central Burundi. She added that the regional exchange visit was an opportunity to learn about Burundi's implementation of environment and agricultural policies.
In order for farmers to produce good quality milk and minimise losses, they have to take into account that quality starts with hygiene of the cows, equipment, and farmers as well as at post-milking handling stage, among others. But many dairy farmers start to lose quality of milk right from the cow's udder.
Poor post-milking handling does not only affect the farmers' revenue but also the revenue of the processors who buy the milk.
To prevent such losses, various stakeholders in the dairy sector, who include Ruhiira Millennium Villages Project (RMVP), Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) and Uganda Crane Creameries Cooperative Union (UCCCU) are involved in educating dairy farmers on animal health, feeding, milking plus handling of milk and its products.
At a recent training held at Mbarara Zonal Agricultural Research Institute (Mbarara Zardi), the district veterinary officer, Dr William Mwebembezi, observed that milk quality is wanting because many farmers do not have knowledge about milk handling.
Speaking to the trainees, who were dairy farmers from Kabuyanda and Nyakitunda sub-counties, he noted that it is the duty of veterinary staff to aid farmers with information.
Some of the mistakes dairy farmers make are avoidable provided they have the right information.
The factors to take into consideration include dirty udders and teats, milk storage containers, milking buckets, personal hygiene of the farmer who is milking, dirty hands and animals putting dirt in the milk while milking and timely delivery to bulking centres. Others include poor milking parlours, using poor milk storage containers and contaminated animal feeds.