There are two types of coffee – Robusta and Arabica. Robusta grows in low altitude areas and Arabica in high altitude areas. Coffee is one of the cash crops that can easily eradicate poverty.
Below are tips on how to ensure you establish a coffee garden as recommended by Uganda Coffee Development Authority.
1. Spacing: The spacing between Robusta plants is 10 feet by 10 feet and between Arabica ones is 8 feet by 8 feet.
2. Dig right size holes – 2 feet long x 2 feet wide x 2 feet deep.
3. While digging holes: heap the top soil on one side and bottom soil on another side.
4. Add manure to the dug-out soil and return it into the holes.
5. Mark the center of the holes and leave them for 2 – 3 months before planting.
6. Obtain coffee plantlets from Certified Coffee Nurseries.
7. During the planting season, plant very early in the morning or late in the evening.
8. Remove the polythene pot cover before planting the seedling/cutting.
9. Provide temporary shade to the newly planted coffee plantlets and water in case of water stress. Water conservation channels/bands are important in coffee.
10. When the coffee plantlets have attained a height of about 11/2 foot or 6 – 9 months after planting, they should be trained (bent in an east to west direction i.e. sunrise to sunset direction) to initiate multiple branches from which the lowest and most healthy 2 are selected and maintained together with the original plantlet. This ensures higher yield and profitability per tree.
11. The coffee garden should always be mulched and “weed free”
12. Beans and bananas are good intercrops for coffee.
13. Continuous de-suckering of the coffee plants should be practiced in order to prevent development of a micro climate that encourages pests such as Black Coffee Twig Borer (BCTB).
14. At maturity, harvest only the red-ripe cherry and dry it immediately on tarpaulins, raised platforms or cemented floor to preserve its good quality.