- Barza Wire - https://wire.farmradio.fm -

Uganda: Big ambitions for Uganda’s small-scale coffee farms (Global Press Journal)

As the world begins to see the extreme effects of climate change, small-scale farmers are seeing the impact on their annual production of crops. In Uganda, these effects include unpredictable weather such as seasons of unstoppable rain, followed by periods of extreme dryness. The outcomes include stunted and dead plants and fungal infections that cause plants to shrivel and die.

Grace Afunadula is a 44-year-old coffee farmer near Lake Victoria. He also produces crops such as beans and potatoes. He took over his family’s farm from his parents and grandparents, but is experiencing unreliable production due to the weather conditions. He says, “It rains when it should be dry, and it’s dry when it should rain.”

In a good season, Mr. Afunadula harvests 65 bags of coffee beans, but in a bad one, only 35 bags. With each bag containing 110 pounds of coffee beans, he experiences a large loss when the weather is not agreeable.

Coffee accounts for 15% of Uganda’s total exports, but with the unpredictable weather, it is increasingly hard to guarantee coffee production. The Uganda Coffee Development Authority reported that coffee-growing areas in Uganda “have become drier and hotter over the past three decades,” making it more and more challenging for farmers. Uganda is the place of origin for robusta coffee and the eight-largest coffee producer in the world, so the government felt the need to protect the industry.

Eighty-five percent of coffee farmers in Uganda are small-scale, which is why the government felt the need to support them, with government officials stating that small-scale farmers are “big players in the coffee industry despite the challenges.”

Also, some guess that, with improved irrigation systems, farmers could potentially double their coffee production.

Between 2019 and 2020, Uganda exported more than five million bags of coffee worth $512 million, and the government wants to increase that number to 20 million bags by 2025. However, this can’t be done without improving irrigation systems for small-scale farmers. To help farmers, the Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries created the Micro-Scale Irrigation Program to help small-scale coffee farmers obtain irrigation systems.

The program is currently working with 50 coffee farmers to provide irrigation systems for consistent watering. The government is paying 75% of the costs for the farmers, and the farmers have to provide the remaining 25%.

Junio Kunihira is a participant in the program. He says that although the government is paying for the majority of the cost of the systems, the remaining 25% equals about eight million Ugandan shillings ($2,183 US). He says he paid “more than 80% of his annual income” to be able to participate in the program. Although it is a large sum of money, he says he doesn’t regret it and that he is very certain he will get his investment back.

Alongside many other Ugandan coffee bean farmers, Mr. Afunadula says that “even if I were added on the program, there is no way I can raise 25% today.” But there is hope that once the program has some success, other farms will be able to participate.

Despite the high cost of participation, Mr. Kunihira says, “I have seen it work on some of my colleague’s farms, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.”

This story is adapted from an article written by Patricia Lindrio and published by Global Press Journal titled “Big Ambitions for Uganda’s Small-Scale Coffee Farms.” To read the full story, go to: https://globalpressjournal.com/africa/uganda/big-ambitions-ugandas-small-scale-coffee-farms/ [1]

Photo: A Ugandan coffee farmer shows how pests and drought have damaged his coffee plants. Credit: Patricia Lindrio for GPJ Uganda.