Government advised to ease young into coffee sector
February 14—The government has been advised to encourage younger generations to get involved in the coffee supply chain or it will thin out after the present aging segment of farmers and processors passes on.
The country presently earns about $500 million annually from coffee exports mainly to Europe and Sudan. This constitutes between 20% and 30% of all forex earnings.
Robusta coffee remains Uganda’s leading agricultural commodity on the international market, but young people prefer to trade in urban centres rather than grow it. A relatively small percentage of Arabica coffee is grown in the western and eastern highlands.
Speaking at the African Fine Coffee Association (AFCA) Sustainability Day in mid-week, Britta Wyss Bisang, the Chief Sustainable Chains officer at Rainforest Alliance said demand is expanding worldwide, but production chains in many countries are showing signs of strain.
“Since the youth are the majority in most coffee growing countries like Uganda then it’s better to bring them on board in the coffee production chain. The government should support them in adopting modern farming technologies which are key in increasing coffee production,” she said. The African Fine Coffee Conference is currently taking place in Kampala.
Before early this year, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ were the world’s two leading sustainability certification organisations, but decided to merge forces in 2017 and become the Rainforest Alliance to tackle environmental and social issues around the world. Rainforest Alliance certify various products that can then be sold at a premium.
Bisang is responsible for the development of the sustainability standards, the assurance as well as the monitoring and evaluation of the program and institutional partnerships.
Christopher Kibanzanga, a state minister for agriculture told the participants the government is committed to ensuring the country produces more coffee to meet the increasing demand both locally, regionally and internationally.
Among the interventions which the government intends to implement to support farmers towards increasing production include recruiting professional coffee extensions service providers who will work closely with the coffee farmers to equip them with basic coffee production skills.
“Government is committed to supporting our local coffee farmers, because the coffee sector, once we develop it, has the potential of solving some social and economic challenges most of the country’s youth are facing. As Government we have developed the coffee road map and if its fully implemented we shall see Uganda producing about 20 million bags of coffee between 2025 and 2030,” he said.
Apart from recruiting extension workers, the Minister said coffee farmers are going to be organised into farming groups this will enable government to support them collectively.
Kibanzanga said, “In Uganda only 15% of the coffee farmers belong to farmers organisations, hence are unable to standardise the quality that attract good market prices. This does not only affects farmers in accessing markets, but also farming inputs. That is why through the Coffee Roadmap we are going to focus more on organising coffee farmers into groups. This will increase production.”
Presenting a paper on Farmer Ownership Model on promoting sustainable productivity, Joseph Nkandu, Executive Director of National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises(NUCAFE) advised farmers to adopt appropriate irrigation technologies, because this will help them to mitigate climate change.
“Coffee farmers, we need to adopt technologies that can support the sector to flourish during the current situation of climate change their technologies on the market which are cheap, but can support coffee farmers during the drought conditions,” he said.
Some of the technologies which coffee farmers should embrace include the using of solar Irrigation system, planting of improved coffee varieties that take short time to mature among other technologies on the market