Coffee stakeholders propose ideas for achieving 20 million bags target

Various stakeholders have proposed suggestions of what Uganda needs to do to boost earnings from coffee exports by boosting volumes of production from the current six million bags to 20 million bags in a small space of time.

Speaking at the 13th Annual  Coffee Platform Stakeholders’ Meeting at Mestil Hotel last week, Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, emphasised the importance of increasing coffee production and maintaining quality standards.

“Everybody must regulate themselves. The value chain actors must know the importance of having bad apples in the basket. If you have bad players with bad coffee being harvested prematurely, you kill the livelihoods of many.” He highlighted the potential  increase in exports if the Government targeted major districts in northern Uganda, West Nile, and other parts.

“Simple mathematics. Get 100 farmers per district, each with 100 acres. The math says you can easily add to our current export volume, another eight million bags in three years,” Tumwebaze proposed.

Dr Emmanuel Iyamulemye, the managing director of Uganda Coffee Development Authority, said one key strategy is tapping into underutilised arable land. “Religious institutions, especially churches, are playing a significant role by investing in available lands. This move aims to substantially increase the area under coffee cultivation,” he explained.

According to Iyamulemye, beyond just increasing land, there’s a strong push to amplify the yield from each coffee tree. “We’re actively seeking collaborations with development partners. Our goal is to expand our reach and sensitise more farmers about coffee’s profitability,” Iyamulemye emphasised.

Robert Mugenyi Musenze, the Chief Executive Officer of the Buganda Cultural and Development Foundation, laid out a comprehensive strategy to drive Uganda’s coffee production towards the 20 million bags mark. The roadmap, he says, does not necessarily rely on radical innovations, but on refining the basics and supporting the farming community.

“Farmers are grappling with counterfeit agro inputs from fertilisers to pesticides,” Musenze stated. He strongly suggests a deliberate effort by government to control these agrochemicals. Genuine inputs, he says, can significantly boost productivity. For instance, using the right quantity of genuine fertiliser can double a farmer’s annual production.

Musenze also supported a shift from traditional farming methods to advanced machinery, arguing that simple mechanisation tools can lead to efficient farming, reducing costs and increasing production.

This approach, he believes, can help farmers manage their acreage better and ensure plants receive timely care. Musenze also proposed incentives on equipment used in the coffee value chain to boost production and value addition. “Granting a tax relief period for machinery, factories, and additional equipment will catalyse growth in the sector. This could lead to increased productivity and create a market pull,” he suggested.

Dr Martin Mbonye, the team leader of the midterm review of the National Coffee roadmap, said: “The first initiative revolves around ensuring demand for our produced coffee.” Other interventions he proposed include promoting local coffee consumption, especially among the youth and in public spaces, as well as efforts for value addition.

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