By Frank Lukwago, New Vision/NECJOGHA
Kampala, Uganda – The Government adopted the National Coffee Policy in 2013, with the key objectives of sustainable production systems, increased domestic consumption, value addition and enhancement of research capacity to increase coffee production. The Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) continues to take the lead in promoting coffee production, marketing and export.
During 2017/18, the Government’s target to suddenly increase coffee revenue looked gradually more achievable as annual production grew by more than one million bags. Production sharply rose from 4.2 million 2016/2017 to 5.6 million bags 2017/2018, earning the country $4.456m (60kg bags), compared to $4.187m 2016/17.
The increase in coffee production area was attributed to a replanting programme implemented by UCDA, which also aims at increasing yields through improved varieties, increase in efficiency of farm inputs supply, and revamping of agricultural extension services.
The priority of NRM Government in 2017/18 was to increase coffee production, research and co-ordination, as well as value addition and generic promotion, Coffee Development in northern Uganda and quality assurance. In order to increase coffee production and productivity in realisaton of the policy objective, the Government, through UCDA, planned to produce 116 million coffee seedlings and surpassed the target by producing 239 million (206%) of the target.
UCDA submits that the performance level was due to the irresistible interest of farmers and their demand for seedlings in line with the Coffee Roadmap target of planting 300 million seedlings per year. However, the performance of coffee development in northern Uganda faced a setback, when only 22 of the planned 36 technology demonstration sites were established on account of harsh weather experienced in the region that affected establishment of sites in 13 districts.
Only 40% (16) of the platforms were facilitated against the targeted 40, under the production, research and co-ordination output of the coffee development programme.
Value addition and generic promotions were undertaken as planned and exhibited in trade fares that showcased coffee during the financial year.
UCDA supported the National Barista Champion to compete at the WCE/WBC event in the Netherlands and emerged 47th of 54 competitors. Uganda Coffee was also promoted and marketed in china, through showcasing exportable Uganda coffee for tasting at various exhibitions.
Uganda is expected to ultimately raise production to 12 million bags by 2040 with a potential return of $2.5b. The 2015/16 coffee strategy document states that “this will be achieved by enhancing access to extension services, agricultural inputs, marketing services and other appropriate technologies in coffee farming by smallholder farmers, processors and middlemen”. But, a more realistic figure resets in the Uganda National Coffee Strategy Plan for 2015-2020. This would bring in export earnings of at least $1.1b, making coffee the second highest foreign exchange earner,after tourism, which brings in 1.5b. An estimated 1.8 million Ugandan households are involved in coffee production, with 80%, growing Robusta, according to UCDA.
Let us involve ourselves in the growing of coffee, in order to increase and improve our outcomes.
(Rose Namayanja is the Treasurer of the ruling National Resistance Movement government)