Notes to broadcasters on coffee production in Uganda

    | September 19, 2011

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    Uganda is one of the top 10 coffee producing countries in the world, and the second biggest producer in Africa, after Ethiopia. But Ugandan farmers are predicting a 10 per cent decline in output for the 2011/12 coffee year which ends this September. The country produced three million bags of coffee three years ago, but the harvest has been decreasing since then. However, due to recent good rains, the latest reports suggest that the three million mark may be within reach this season:

    Increased fuel costs, an unreliable electricity supply, and leaf rust disease have all reduced production. This year, heavy rains and landslides have devastated some coffee-producing areas. For news reports on the recent landslides, see:

    You might like to refer to previous stories in Farm Radio Weekly on coffee:

    Uganda: Coffee and bananas make good neighbours (FRW 90, November 2009).

    Kenya: Solutions offered for ’green scales’ that attack coffee trees (FRW 97, February 2010).

    And a script on coffee from Farm Radio International’s archive:

    -Growing Coffee with Shade Trees: A Conversation (Package 50, Script 6, November 1998)

    Coffee is mostly grown for export in Uganda, but small-scale farmers rarely receive a fair percentage of the final consumer price. If you broadcast to a region which grows crops for export, you could explore some of the issues faced by small-scale farmers. Interview a coffee farmer who grows for export, and ask a representative of the government or local business community to comment. You could begin with these questions:

    -Do local small-scale farmers get a fair price for growing export crops such as tea, coffee or cocoa?

    -How do prices for export crops compare to prices for cereals or vegetables on local markets?

    -How can farmers improve their chances of getting a better price?

    -Are there any local or regional co-operatives?

    -Have “Fair trade” initiatives reached this region?

    -Is there any government support when prices crash or harvests fail?

    -What supports would farmers recommend?