For Uganda to achieve its 2025 vision of exporting 20 million bags of coffee, there must be concerted efforts of all stakeholders. This was the message of Anja de Fijter, the executive director of the Agribusiness Development Centre (ADC) at a two-day training of farmer based organisation leaders in Kampala. The leaders of 64 farmer groups were in Kampala to be coached on how to manage market risks by knowing about the prices of coffee on both the national and international market before selling.
“We see that farmer-based organisations still need a lot of support in this area, they need to learn what influences the price of coffee. It is not only Uganda that influences prices at the international market but the different producing countries,” de Fijter said.
“Uganda wants to export 20 million bags of coffee in 2025 and everybody who has interest in coffee should work in a united way to promote the sector because it’s a very important sector.”
It is estimated that Uganda has over 1.7 million coffee farmers looking after about 900 million coffee trees. This makes it the biggest coffee planting country in East Africa.
“If we can get our sector organised, get farmers access to finance, then we can know that we can meet the 20 million bags we are targeting,” de Fijter said.
Kizito Mayanja an official working with the Coffee Development Authority (UCD) was put to task by the participants to explain what government was doing to ensure that its 20 million bags target was achieved.
“Was this a political target aimed at exciting some people or indeed you are serious about it? What are you doing as government to ensure that it’s attained?” Andrew Mulwanyi, a farmer from Masaka asked.
Mayanja explained that as UCD they have moved in several parts of the country explaining to people about best farming practices. He added that they are also giving out millions of coffee seedlings to farmers across the country.
He was however noncommittal on whether the target of 20 million bags is attainable in 2025. Uganda currently exports 4.5 million bags of coffee per year. The training, part of the many so far organised by ADC, this time also targeted cocoa farmers because it is also increasingly becoming one of Uganda’s leading export earner. In 1990, Uganda did not export even a single tonne of cocoa but last year 24,000 metric tonnes of cocoa were exported fetching $48 million.
“It is really becoming a very serious export product for Uganda. That’s why we think that the farmers should be informed about the prices and protect themselves against market risks,” de Fijter said.
SOURCE: THE OBSERVER