Coffee farmers have called for more investments and adequate funding to drive coffee production and value addition in the country.
In their recommendations to the prime minister, the minister of the Presidency and ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) and ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, farmers claimed that Uganda has been earning little from the coffee sector.
Globally, last year, the coffee industry generated $460 billion. The coffee-producing countries combined earned an average of $25 billion, which is about five per cent of the global value.
Out of the five per cent Uganda earned 0.17 per cent. Uganda’s coffee exports grew from two million 60-kilo bags in financial year 2005/2006 to eight million bags in the financial year 2021/2022.
In value terms, coffee contributed 22 per cent of all export earnings estimated at Shs 3.2 trillion in financial 2021/2022. Joseph Nkandu, the executive director of the NUCAFE, said they recommended strengthening farmer organizations and cooperatives to ensure that farmers are empowered.
Farmers can only be empowered when they work in farm organizations and cooperatives.
“We called for the necessary investment and financing to drive coffee value addition. What resources do we need in terms of funding to ensure that we cut out value addition and many other aspects, how can the private sector be galvanized to ensure that there is financing for them? We are working closely with the government to ensure that there is money in a financial institution ring-fenced for the private sector such that Uganda can have a larger export market share,” he said.
“We want affordable financing for solar-powered irrigation. We have over time urged farmers to insure their crops against dry spells and other calamities. We have tried to sensitize them, but it takes a bit of time, and it requires concerted efforts,” he said.
Victoria Balyejusa Sekitoleko, the former minister of Agriculture, and a farmer herself, said government and stakeholders should prioritise research because it is the starting point of the entire coffee value chain.
The stakeholders expressed their dismay over government’s decision to merge the Uganda Coffee Development Authority with the ministry of Agriculture. Former minister of Finance Gerald Sendawula said it is not proper at this time because you need a lot of care.
“If we are to remain competitive as a country in the coffee industry, we need to retain the independence and an autonomous body coordinating all activities of coffee,” he said.
Sendaula explained that the bureaucracy in government is huge because you are not going to rule out the chain of command in a bid to get anything; you need to go through a lot of people to get what you want.
Milly Babirye Babalanda, the minister for the Presidency, said financing coffee farms remains an essential and sensitive government matter.
“The government has prioritized the need to attract investment in the industrial processing of coffee and will take action to strengthen the coffee sector to enhance its contribution towards the socio-economic transformation of Uganda,” she said.