Café Africa Uganda established 2006
The coffee sector in Uganda
Coffee is today Uganda’s principal agricultural export and produced by about 1.3 million households. However, Uganda’s coffee industry had been hit by two problems in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. First, the Coffee Wilt Disease (CWD) which decimated the robusta tree population, and secondly the disastrous prices of 2001 – 2003, which greatly discouraged farmers. In 2006 exports were running at a 3 year moving average of about 2.45 million bags, and the difficult market conditions had discouraged many exporters and investors.
Both public and private sector stakeholders agreed that production and exports could be doubled within 10 years by working together towards that objective. For this reason, the Coffee Production Campaign was launched in 2006 by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) and Café Africa Uganda, and at the request of the then Minister of Agriculture Hon.Dr. Kibirige Ssebunya. This brought stakeholders together to develop and implement a plan to increase production.
Café Africa’s achievements so far
Establishment and support of the National Coffee Platform
The National Steering Committee of the Production Campaign was formed towards the end of 2006, and has met monthly since then. An evaluation of the Platform in 2014 confirmed it had been useful in strengthening relationships in the sector, and creating a positive environment for stakeholders to work together.
Harmonised Extension Materials – National Sustainability Curriculum
In 2014/15 a Working Group developed harmonised coffee extension materials, approved by NACORI (Coffee Research), MAAIF (Ministry of Agriculture) and UCDA (Uganda Coffee Development Authority). These have been widely distributed, and are being used by both public and private sector extension efforts.
District Coffee Extension Programme
The purpose was to train agronomists, part from the public sector, part from the private, and including 30% women, in the use of the National Sustainability Curriculum. This has been done between 2016 – 2017 in 9 Districts, training 270 agronomists and 270 lead farmers in coffee agronomy. The agronomists passed an examination, and are widely recognised in the sector for their knowledge of coffee agronomy.
Work is now going ahead to integrate the National Sustainability Curriculum into the Ministry of Agriculture’s Directorate of Extension Services operations, so as to ensure an sound level of knowledge among all the Directorate’s agronomists in the 80 or so coffee districts across the country.
Towards an Integrated Coffee Specific Extension Service
In collaboration with UCDA, the Directorate of Extension in MAAIF, and the District Authorities, Café Africa has initiated in early 2018, with funding from J.D.E., the Dutch roasters, and I.D.H., the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative, a programme to integrate the agronomists trained under the District Coffee Extension Programme into a coffee specific extension service provided at District and Sub-County level. This is being trialed in six districts, aiming to reach, over an initial period of three years, mover 50,000 farmers with training in good agricultural practices, and the content of the harmonised extension materials/national sustainability curriculum. Café Africa is also receiving support from Benckiser Foundation Zukunft to assure a strong monitoring and evaluation component in this work, to have a clear view on the real impact on the small-holder farmers concerned.
District Coffee Shows
One of the key activities to raise interest and awareness among small-holder farmers has been the District Coffee Shows. These have happened most years since 2008, and in total about 45 Districts have had Shows attended by over 150,000 farmers. The aim is to give farmers information about growing coffee, drinking coffee, new technologies which they can access, marketing coffee and how Uganda’s coffee reaches the international consumers. The Shows provide a great occasion to celebrate coffee in the Districts once a year, and attract a good number of young people. There are many stories of families which have again become interested and engaged with coffee production, thanks to these Shows. With all the competing interests for the younger generation, it is important not to presume that they will automatically want to grow coffee!
Renewed commitment of Government of Uganda to the Coffee Sector
2017 saw a renewed commitment of the Government to the coffee sector in Uganda. The President has emphasised the importance of coffee, setting high targets for increased production for the coming 5 – 10 years, and involving the Office of Wealth Creation in the distribution of large numbers of seedlings to the Districts. A new Coffee Road Map was developed with support from McKinsey, the consulting firm, and the sector is now working on the development of an implementation plan for that Road Map.
Nursery Operator Training and Manual
Under the Government’s plan to see an increase in production, there has been a major push for the supply of seedlings to farmers. Many millions of seedlings have been distributed through the Office of Wealth Creation, but in some cases the success rate has been limited, due to lack of knowledge in the Districts on nursery management. With funding from Utz, Café Africa organised (2017) in two Districts a training of nursery operators, as well as engagement with farmers who were to receive seedlings. The results proved very positive, with a success rate of over 90% of the seedlings distributed. A Nursery Operator’s Manual was also prepared, and is being distributed more broadly. Steps are being taken to take the training to additional Districts.