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Coffee farmers advised to tap into expert knowledge

Private and public actors in the coffee sub-sector are grappling with the challenge of boosting production and productivity of Uganda’s most lucrative cash crop as a way of fighting household poverty.

Much as coffee plays a key integral part in building the country’s economy, its exportable volumes have been stuck at three million bags every year for the last four decades, a challenge that calls for strategic interventions to enable the sector produce more volumes.

Presidential advisor on poverty alleviation Joan Kakwenzire suggested that one of the key interventions should be centred on encouraging farmers to consistently seek expert knowledge on coffee value chain systems.

“If we are to improve and have a sustainable coffee sub-sector that produces more in terms of volumes, quality and revenues, we must harness the knowledge of experts on how to grow and add value to coffee, achieve more from it for better livelihoods,” she said.

Kakwenzire was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a coffee farmers training held at her Mukono-based Atamba Mixed Farm recently.

The training was facilitated by experts from the Consortium for enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development (CURAD), a local agribusiness incubation facility of which Atamba Farm coffee segment is a beneficiary.

Atamba farm currently serves as a model facility that engages experts in equipping residents with coffee farming knowledge covering rational choice of quality seedlings, modern coffee planting, crop care, harvesting and post-harvest handling.

“We live in a dynamic information age; farming technology also keeps on changing and that calls for consistent engagement in searching and application of new knowledge for a better agricultural sector transformation,” she said.

Kakwenzire pointed out that her farm would continue working on helping the local farmers on various avenues of transforming agriculture, key among which is undertaking agriculture while factoring in the fundamentals of commercial farming.

David Muwonge, a coffee agribusiness expert and one of the founding members of CURAD pledged his body’s support in disseminating new knowledge within the circles of many actors in the coffee value chain, make university agricultural research findings well-entrenched into the farming communities and encourage formation of farmer groups across the country.

“We seek to create a breed of coffee farmers knowledgeable in the areas of modern farming agronomy, value addition and marketing dynamics among other related agribusiness systems,” he said.

He, however, noted that the training programs CURAD promotes are not meant for individual farmers, that is why formation of associations comes in handy.