One of the factors that slow down our country’s agricultural progress is disrespect for agricultural research. Almost 30 years ago, plant breeders under the National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) identified six Robusta coffee clones that are very high yielding and which had the most desired bean size.
They propagated plantlets from them by cloning and multiplied them over the years. The government encouraged farmers to grow them as the quickest way to increase yields and to fight poverty.
Nonetheless Uganda’s annual coffee production has stagnated at about 3 million 60kg-bags for nearly 20 years mainly due to the incurable Coffee Wilt Disease (CWD), delay by farmers to resort to high yielding cloned coffee plantlets, and discouragingly low coffee prices.
The National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (Nucafe) is to market Uganda’s coffee in the Unites States.
The move is intended to boost the visibility of Uganda’s coffee in the world’s most powerful country.
This follows a match-making meeting between Nucafe executive director Joseph Nkandu and US investors in agribusiness value addition, including Chromatic Coffee and Seva Coffee, held in Silicon Valley, California,
said though the Government targets to export 20 million bags of coffee by 2020, insufficient marketing of the commodity in key consuming countries like the US could hamper its plan.
“Uganda’s coffee is not known in key coffee consuming countries like the US. Our coffee is just used as a blend, but we want to change this trend and start having it on the shelves in the US,” Nkandu said in an interview recently.
Promoters of coffee growing in Uganda have been advised to borrow ideas from big coffee producing countries like Brazil who are the leading exporters of the crop in the world, to increase productivity.
The call was made by Carlos Brando of P&A, a Brazilian coffee marketing company, who is in Uganda to show case different coffee technologies right from the farm to the cup.
He said productivity will not grow if the famer is not supported to access finance, inputs like fertilizers, machinery and equipment so they can produce more coffee per hectare like it is in Brazil.
He was speaking at a press conference a head of a three day coffee technologies expo starting on Thursday till Saturday at the UMA multipurpose hall, Lugogo.
The expo is organized by the Brazafric, a Brazilian company promoting agriculture and environment conservation solutions and Africa Coffee Academy with the aim of showcasing different technologies and machinery needed in the coffee sector.
October will, for now, fold Mr Henry Ngabirano’s long term in public service spanning more than 25 years.
Before joining Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), he worked as a quality manager for 10 years at the defunct Coffee Marketing Board. For years, Mr Ngabirano has been Uganda’s main stay in the coffee industry and could be one of the country’s best coffee experts.
Kampala. For a long time Ugandans have been steered to believe that the coffee they grow is simply a cash crop. And with 80 per cent of the population involved in agriculture, coffee growing has been a mainstay and cash crop for most households in the country.