Ankole Diocese and Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) launched a partnership to improve household income through coffee growing targeting 46,000 households.
UCDA donated 22,500 coffee wilt disease resistant robusta seedlings to the diocese during the launch of the partnership on March, 9 2021 at Kinoni Archdeaconary in Rwampara district.
The seedlings will cover 50 acres out of the project target of 400 acres and will be planted on church land. The church will also establish demonstration gardens near the churches.
The Bishop of Ankole, Rt Rev Dr. Sheldon Mwesigwa, said supporting farming is part of the diocese’s community and household transformation agenda.
“We owe a big debt and we will be answerable to our God if we let our people continue to suffer in poverty. You can’t claim spiritual growth of a church when your people are languishing in poverty. We serve to grow our communities in spirit and economic growth,” he said.
Mr Sedrach Muhangi, the UCDA Regional Coffee Extension Officer, said they believe the Church can use its structures to improve the quantity and quality of the coffee produced in the region.
“The Church has well laid-structures and commands a big following. We believe it can be a reliable partner to improve coffee production,” Mr Muhangi said.
He said from the 22,500 seedlings, after maturity, the diocese can earn about Shs27 million in a season as each coffee plant can yield up to three kilogrammes of kase or Fair Average Quality (FAQ) coffee a season, which translates into 67,500kgs.
Mr Simon Kwikiriza, the head of household and transformation department at the diocese, said they target to establish a coffee processing factory in the next 10 years to encourage exportation.
The Rwampara Resident District Commissioner, Mr Emmy Kateera, said the project will not only boost household income but also help the Church that largely relies on believers for financial support.
“This is a well-thought intervention because some churches are becoming a burden to believers which is also hindering spiritual growth. Your Christians are poor but you demand thanksgiving, tithe and other contributions every Sunday. A believer who has no money has no alternative but to shun the church instead of suffering shame and stigma for failure to contribute money,” Mr Kateera said.
UCDA is working with different religious institutions across the country to promote coffee growing in line with the National Development Plan (NDP III) target of mindset change to promote development.