The UCDA, NaCORI, NARO and other stakeholders in a group photo during the inception meeting held at Essella Hotel in Najjeera, Kira Municipality.

European Union Boosts Coffee and Cocoa Production with sh1.2bn

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In a bid to increase the production and productivity of coffee and cocoa, the government in conjunction with the European Union has boosted the funding into research with a sh1.2bn grant to National Coffee Research Institute (NaCORI).

Dr. Sandra Ndagire Kamenya, the acting National Project coordinator for Coffee and Cocoa Value Chain Development Project (CoCoDev) under the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) told this website that the grant is intended to enable NaCORI come up with improved, high yielding and disease resistant coffee and cocoa varieties.

“With the help of that grant, NaCORI is to implement the project called, Climate Smart Technologies for increased Coffee and Cocoa Production and Productivity,” she said.

A casual worker picking coffee at Kituuza in Nakisunga sub-county, Mukono district from one of the NaCORI model gardens.

Ndagire made the remarks while addressing an inception meeting held at Essella Hotel in Najjeera, Kira Municipality. The meeting was attended by the representatives of European Union, National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), UCDA and NaCORI officials, farmers, together with other stakeholders.

She added the sh1,239,887,436 project will run for 32 months where NaCORI will apply modern techniques to generate adequate planting materials of improved Arabica coffee, Robusta coffee and cocoa, as initial foundation stock, for upscaling by sector players.

She mentioned that as the target zones for growing coffee and cocoa expands beyond the traditional production areas, they identified the need to support research to generate and avail climate resilient seedlings that are adapted to wider geographical areas.

Dr. Sandra Ndagire Kameya, the acting National Project coordinator for Coffee and Cocoa Value Chain Development Project (CoCoDev).

“The aim is to meet the coffee export targets in the Coffee Roadmap and encounter the growing national demand to increase coffee and cocoa production, crop quality and generate income for farmers,” she elaborated.

The Coffee Roadmap is the Uganda Government strategy to raise the production of coffee from four million bags in 2017 to 20 million bags by 2030.

Ndagire said that the coffee roadmap came as a result of the Presidential directive of October 2015, to accelerate coffee production.

Dr. Gerald Kyalo, the director in charge of production UCDA said that under the CoCoDev program, they also have a commercial coffee and cocoa farmers’ support initiative that is aimed at improving coffee and cocoa production at a commercial level.

Dr. Kyalo said that the project has already identified over 1000 potential cocoa and coffee commercial farmers who are going to be facilitated with 100 percent support for formulation of 10-50 acres per farmer through a matching grant component.

“Because the project is intended to boost coffee and cocoa commercial farming, the government is intended to get at least 1000 farmers who will get support to plant between 10-50 acres. They will get free high yielding seedlings, labour, banana tissues to plant in their coffee and cocoa, alongside other requirements,” he said.

Dr. Geoffrey Arinaitwe, the director NaCORI said that after coming up with the improved varieties of coffee and cocoa, they will supply them to the certified nursery operators for maximization to meet the high demand of the selected farmers countrywide.

Dr. Ndagire said that a farmer is expected to receive an estimate of sh3.2m per an acre but this money will be refunded to the farmers after putting up a garden when he or she well followed the European Union given guidelines.

Samuel Nfuga, a coffee farmer from Masaka City who also operates a coffee nursery welcomed the idea saying it is going to boost coffee farming in Uganda.

Nfuga said that though there are very many coffee farmers in the country, a big number of them are getting eliminated as a result of the increased coffee wilt disease which dries up their coffee plantations.

“I am optimistic that as this program is intended to come up with improved breeds of coffee which will be high yielding and disease resistant, such varieties will help also farmers outside this program to replace their affected coffee plantations,” he said.

According to Dr. Kyalo, Uganda is currently experiencing the best coffee prices ever, which ranges between sh12,000-15,000 per a kilogram.

On the side of cocoa, Brian Musubire, an expert from Kituuza in Mukono district at the NaCORI headquarters told New Vision on Monday that the crop is also having the best price which has been up from January.

Musubire says that before January, a kilogram of cocoa was at sh6000 but it drastically raised to sh30,000. He said that currently, a kilogram of cocoa ranges between sh25,000-30,000.

Brian Musubire, an expert in value addition for coffee and cocoa working at NaCORI headquarters at Kituuza in Nakisunga-county, Mukono district showing dried cocoa beans.

Dr. Ndagire said that Uganda is relatively new to cocoa production and a small player in comparison to the two largest origins, of Ivory Coast and Ghana. She says that the total number of cocoa growers based on private company statistics, ranges from 20,000-35,000.

“The main production areas are in the Western districts of Bundibugyo (accounting for 70% of the national production), Ntoroko and Kasese districts. The crop is also found in smaller pockets in Mukono, Mayuge, Buikwe, Kibaale, Hoima, Mpigi, Luweero, Masaka, Kamuli and Mbale districts,” Ndagire said adding;

“There are attempts to open up new cocoa growing areas, for example in West Nile, Mukono, Buikwe and Greater Kibaale.”

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