Bunjankko Coffee Nursery supported by NUCAFE for coffee seedlings multiplication in Uganda. For those in need of quality coffee seedlings in the areas of Mpigi, it is the Coffee Nursery to look out for.
A new agriculture funding line that is expected to boost efforts towards agricultural commercialisation by removing farm barriers has opened.
The sh2.12b funding will be administered by Post Bank but with a percentage coming from the agricultural business initiative (aBi) Trust, the agency implementing the Uganda Rural Challenge Fund funded by KFW, a German agency.
Post Bank will contribute 62% (sh1.3b), while aBi will contribute sh813m (38%). During the signing of the contract at the aBi offices in Kampala, Post Bank chief Stephen Mukweli said they will address barriers such as adapting appropriate technology and addressing the shortfalls of the value chain.
They will acquire and deploy two vans to reach rural farmers.
“The onus is on us to make sure we use the money well to serve its intended purpose,” said Mukweli.
Peter Ochiengs, the aBi Trust acting chief, explained that the funding will help address the challenges of rural financing.
“Our bankers still don’t appreciate farmers. They think they are risky. In the long run, if the loan officer can appreciate, then they are making the work of the farmer easy,” said Ochiengs.
The money will not be accessed directly as loan cash, according to the two institutions. It will go towards procurement of equipment for project implementation, marketing of agricultural loan products, recruitment and training of loan officers.
The rural fund provides grants with a minimum of euro50,000 and maximum euro250,000 to financial institutions to promote access to financial services.
The financial institution must have a minimum of 3,000 clients and outstanding loan portfolio of at least sh1b. It will also be deployed towards hiring an agricultural expert to work with the bank for about one year, upgrading the technology to be able to provide specific reports on the agricultural loans and remodeling to create space for loans officers.
Mukweli said the bank will contribute to serve the mass market and empower Ugandans by providing efficient and reliable financial services.
“This contract is to deepen our financials collaboration centred around agriculture which employs most Ugandans. The bank is designed to support small and big farmers,” Mukweli said.
Given the crop's importance to our economy, coffee growing, post-harvest management, and marketing ought to be fused in the school curriculum, examined at PLE and both O and A levels
In recent years, many of our leaders have been touring the coffee-growing regions of the country encouraging more farmers to grow the crop. They have also donated coffee plantlets to those interested amidst criticism that the gesture could be voter bribery especially as this has often preceded general elections.
About 1.5 million households in Uganda depend on coffee for income, directly or indirectly. It is the country's leading commercial agricultural commodity, accounting for nearly 20 per cent of the value of all exports.
Gerald Ssendaula, chairman of Nucafe (National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farmers Enterprises) and former Minister of Finance, has said that if Uganda produced all the coffee it is potentially capable of, it would be in a position to fully finance its national budget.
Tress Bucyanayandi, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, has described coffee as the most widely traded tropical agricultural commodity in international trade.
Due to their geographical location, the industrialised countries in Europe and America do not grow the crop but they are its greatest consumers. They buy it in raw material form and turn it into instant and soluble powder for consumption at the dining table.
Uganda is one of the few countries in the world that produce a crop that the rich countries do not grow. It is a position we should take advantage of.
Apart from struggling to increase coffee production at farm level what else are we doing to ensure that we own the crop and actually decide its cost price? What are we doing to ensure that we out-compete the other coffee producing countries in terms of quantity and quality?
A quick survey across the coffee-growing regions indicates that most farmers dry it on the bare ground where it quickly picks up dirt. Others pick green coffee and store it in unhygienic conditions that cause it to malt.
The ordinary coffee farmer today needs more education in post-harvest management of the crop than free plantlets. Given the crop's importance to our economy, coffee growing, post-harvest management, and marketing ought to be fused in the school curriculum, examined at PLE and both O and A levels.
Form Daily Monitor
The Democratic Party is calling upon government to allocate more funds to agriculture in the 2014/2015 Budget. As a farmer, I should be nodding my head in agreement but instead I am shaking it in disagreement. The party, whose symbol is the hand hoe, has got it totally wrong this time.
Allocating the suggested 10-15 per cent of the national budget to agriculture will not automatically transform the sector which has so far failed to realise its full potential. If it was a question of money, then Naads would have delivered us to the promised land. Money is a resource Naads has or had in plenty.
But instead of transforming the sector, Naads money became a problem, shifting emphasis from service delivery to accountability. In the end, some coordinators were spending most of their time forging documents, instead of delivering services to the farmers.
Support the other sectors
Today, there is talk of placing Naads under Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries (Maaif). That is a vote of no confidence in Naads, and a big lesson for all of us.
The campaign to transform agriculture has to involve everyone, not a few individuals or institutions. There is need for support and cooperation from other sectors in order to develop. It is a big mistake, trying to develop it in isolation. It does not make sense pumping more money in agriculture, when other sectors are ailing.
The sector needs healthy, educated people to work on farms and other areas of production, processing and marketing. That calls for increasing funding in both health and education sectors. Farmers need good roads to transport their produce to the market. That means more funding for the roads authority--UNRA--to develop a proper transport network.
Instead of demanding for a bigger allocation in the national budget, the focus should be on harnessing the resources that already exist in different sectors to develop agriculture.
Since agriculture employs more than 80 per cent of the population, contributes about 20 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product and supplies most of the inputs used by other sectors, it is, therefore, in everyone's interest, not only farmers, that it develops.
Time to revisit our history
The period, 1971–1979, is often referred to as the golden age in Uganda's sporting history. That is when John Akii Bua set a world record at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games and Uganda Cranes made it to the finals of the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana. In between, Ugandan boxers were knocking out whoever took them on in the boxing ring.
What was the secret behind this success? Certainly, it was not money. The economy was doing badly.
The secret was President Idi Amin's campaign to demystify sports. Big Daddy saw to it that every Ugandan, young or old, participated in sports. Leading by example, the president regularly played football, basketball, swimming, boxing, motor rallying and target shooting.
The task of developing sports was not left to the line ministry, like the case is today. Almost every ministry and government institution had a sports department, headed by a sports officer.
Government institutions and private companies bankrolled teams in different sports. The armed forces doubled as breeding grounds for sportsmen preparing for national duty- as Amin put it.
Police and Prisons dominated athletics. John Akii Bua was a policeman. The army dominated football, supplying most of the players in Cranes. It was because of Hima Cement that Kasese became a national boxing powerhouse.
Bank of Uganda, Post Office and other government departments bankrolled teams in different sports disciplines. Schools were required to include Physical Education on their daily timetable.
Civil servants had to take part in physical exercise or drills daily.
The same strategy can work for agriculture, if we all got involved. Transforming agriculture should be everyone's responsibility, not just Naads or Maaif.
KCCA is already doing it
As part of its campaign to combat unemployment among the urban youth, KCCA has set up a model farm in Kyanja to demonstrate various farming enterprises that can be set up in urban areas.
Even before it officially opens to the public, the farm is already attracting groups of youth looking for ideas and inspiration.
The youth are impressed, at the same time challenged, to see animals living in a much cleaner environment and feeding better than some city residents. This is an initiative that urban authorities in other parts of the country can adopt, utilising idle resources like land, to create jobs, while ensuring food security for their residents.
Like sports, farming skills are best acquired at a young age. For that reason, schools have a big role to play in attracting youth into farming.
Forming young farmers' clubs, organising school trips to agricultural shows and setting up school gardens where students can experiment, are some of the activities that can get the youth interested in farming.
Many schools have idle land, which is being targeted by land grabbers. One way of protecting it is to put it to use. The children will get even more motivated, if they are allowed to sell their produce to the school or the community to earn some pocket money.
Unfortunately, many schools use farming as a punishment for bad behaviour, forcing students to work long hours on the school farm, often without rest or food. This has to change.
A school farm should be a fun place, where students indulge in agritainment and other fun activities that are related to farming.
The author is a farming journalist and a consultant.
From Daily Monitor
Farmers' incomes are expected to look up as global coffee prices suddenly begin to rise, your cup of coffee could cost you more.
Records from the International Coffee organisation (ICO) show that the price of Composite is now $149.13 cents/lb, up from $104 cents/lb it traded at the beginning of the year.
The monthly average of the ICO composite indicator has risen by 25.7 per cent in February 2014, its highest level in last five months.
The composite increased consistently over the course of the month, starting at a low of 104.52.
The ICO group indicators underwent more mixed fortunes, with the three Arabica groups all increasing significantly while Robustas fell slightly.
Experts say dry weather in January in several coffee‐growing regions in Brazil has been seen as detrimental to the development of the 2014/15 harvest, supporting coffee prices over the course of the month.
"Much of the recent price support has been due to speculation over the size of the upcoming Brazilian crop," the ICO report stated.
Farmers have high hopes
Giving his interpretation on what is happening, Mr David Barry, the managing director of Kyagalanyi Coffee, says: "The current trend in the movement of the global coffee prices is very astonishing. Our hope is to see the price stabilise."
He added that this trend is a good sign to farmers because their incomes are set to improve.
Exports in December 2013 amounted to 8.5 million bags, a 5.8 per cent decrease from the same month in 2012.
This brings total exports for the first quarter of coffee year 2013/14 (October to December) to 24.9 million bags, down 9.8 per cent on 2012/13.
Total exports in 2013 reached 108.9 million bags, 1.8 per cent below the record volume of 110.8 million exported in 2012.
Exports of both Colombian Milds and Brazilian Naturals were higher for the year, up 31 per cent and 2.1 per cent, respectively.
Locally, the price of Kiboko currently stands between Shs1,000 and Shs1,500, FAQ at Shs3,000 and Shs3,500 and Arabica Parchment stands at between Shs3,400 and Shs3,600.