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Coffee Production in Acholi Remains At 500, 000 Bags For 3 Years

The coffee yield in Acholi sub-region has stagnated for the past three years. The government introduced Coffee growing in Acholi in 1999 as an alternative cash crop to cotton, in a bid to fight household poverty.

However, when the war by the Lord’s Resistance Rebels intensified, many people were displaced in IDP camps, which disrupted coffee production as thousands were forced into internally displaced people’s camps. But in 2014, UCDA embarked on a countrywide drive to replant coffee to increase production that had stalled at 3.5 million bags.

Moses Asiimwe, the Northern Regional Manager at Uganda Coffee Development Authority, UCDA, told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that since 2020, coffee production in the Acholi sub-region has remained at 500,000 bags.

Asiimwe says although coffee yields seem stagnant, the north still has the chance for both production and productivity of coffee, unlike other areas of the country that have no more land for the crop, adding that the sub-region can reach 1.5 million 60-kilogram bags in the next five years.

Asiimwe says that UCDA will bridge the shortfall by distributing free seedlings to farmers in the mid-north who apply for seedlings and dig the coffee holes in time. Since April 2023 to date, UCDA has distributed 318,000 Arabica coffee cuttings and 125,300 Coffee Wilt Disease resistant-CWD-r to 5,211 farmers in the Acholi sub-region, and 9 million seedlings to farmers in Acholi, Lango, West Nile, and Karamoja sub-regions.

Asiimwe believes that in the next three years, the Authority will have enough seedlings to support all coffee farmers in the region. Coffee is still facing challenges such as prolonged drought, which affects the young plants from November to February, and also the digging of holes.

Farmers say digging holes for planting coffee remains the hardest part of the business because it requires one to dig holes two feet wide and deep for each plant, which is an unusual way of planting for people in the region. Asiimwe advises farmers who intend to start growing coffee to dig the holes early before the onset of planting season so that they don’t feel the pressure of the work.

Despite the challenges facing coffee farmers in the sub-region, Asiimwe reveals that there are resilient farmers who are earning 9 million Shillings from just an acre of coffee.

Alfred Okwonga, the mayor of Gulu City, who started promoting the crop in Gulu City in March 2023 has urged farmers in Acholi to adopt the growing of crops that regularly and perennially so that they can fight poverty by having a constant flow of income.

Okwonga, who has himself planted 10 acres of coffee said through his sensitization program about the crop, farmers have planted 50 acres of coffee.

Okwonga, adds that he has and is willing to provide seedlings to farmers who have already dug their holes.

A report by the UCDA indicates that coffee export for twelve months in the 2021/2022 financial year totaled 6.26 million bags, compared to 6.08 million bags the previous financial year.

In 2015, Uganda planned to export 20 million 60-kilogram bags by 2020, and later deferred the deadline to 2022, however, production only stands at 8 million 60-kilogram bags.

-URN

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