Farmer organisations, cooperatives to contribute to producing 20 million bags of coffee annually
Uganda celebrated the 5th International Coffee Day (ICD) on October 4. On this day, annually, the subsector stakeholders led by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority reflect on how the coffee year has progressed.
This year’s theme was ‘Sustainable Coffee Production through a Cooperative Model and Community Development. This theme was timely as Government will conclude the National Development Plan 2 this financial year 2019/20 and embark on the National Development Plan 3 which focuses on agro-industrialization and creation of jobs especially for the young people. Sustainable coffee production requires the subsector to handle the social, economic and environment aspects on one hand and successive planning on the other.
Uganda’s economic growth has been showing a positive trend since 1986 averaging 5.59% per annum between 2009 and 2018 with coffee making a significant contribution to the country’s total export earnings.
Furthermore, the Uganda Agricultural Sector Strategic Plan (ASSP), which is ending this financial year 2019/20, prioritizes Coffee as the second strategic crop after maize. This prominence necessitated the development of the National Coffee Policy in 2013 to guide the coffee subsector in increasing production and productivity, value addition and domestic consumption.
In order to operationalize the coffee policy, a range of strategic interventions were developed and refined to create a dynamic, competitive, profitable and sustainable coffee subsector. Mobilizing farmers into cooperatives and farmer groups was one such strategic intervention. This is also in line with the Uganda Coffee Roadmap, which responds to a directive issued by H.E. the President of Uganda in 2014, to accelerate coffee production from the then 3.5 million 60kg bags to 20 million bags of green coffee by the year 2025. The roadmap is a strategic plan for setting the country on the path to producing the 20 million 60kg bags with nine initiatives.
The first three initiatives of the roadmap fall under the broad category of demand and value addition. These are to build structured demand, brand Uganda coffee and increase local coffee value addition. The next three initiatives fall under the broad category of production and are to strengthen farmer organisation, support joint ventures and provide and promote concession. The last category of initiatives are enablers and are to improve quality of planting material, improve access to quality inputs, and develop a coffee finance programme. The combined initiatives cover practically the whole coffee value chain. It is assumed that well targeted public funding will stimulate the private sector to play their part.
This year as the coffee subsector celebrated the International Coffee Day the focus was on the fourth intiative (to strengthen farmer organisations and producer cooperatives). Farmers and other subsector players were advised on the benefits of forming and maintaining farmer organisations and producer cooperatives which includes extension services on seed garden and seed management, good agricultural practices (GAPs), disease and pest management control as well as harvest and post-harvest handling.
We believe farmer organisations and cooperatives are also beneficial to farmers as they edify them on budgeting and planning for the services that are critical for coffee production and productivity. Furthermore, through farmer organisations and cooperatives farmers are able to respond to economic market trends such as traceability of the coffee product. Today’s buyers and consumers require information about the origin of the coffee they consume - who produces it and what farming practices they employ.
Through farmer organisations, farmers will receive a wide range of professional services. The farmer organisations will be strengthened through their leadership, governance and management. With enhanced service delivery to farmers through strengthened farmer organisations and producer cooperatives, the target to produce 20 million 60kg bags will be achieved.