Members of Parliament have called for adequate extension services to improve coffee production in the country.
MPs said that poor coffee handling practices can be attributed to lack of proper education of coffee farmers on best practices, which has inevitably affected quality.
“Extension workers can go a long way in improving the production of coffee in areas that grow the crop on a large scale. We need to support model farmers who can attract people to the crop,” said Hon. Henry Kibalya (NRM, Bugabula South County).
Hon. David Abala (NRM, Ngora County) said that some regions of Uganda, including Teso and Karamoja, have been left behind in the coffee sector, adding that they ought to be prioritized and budgeted for.
The Committee chaired by Abim Woman MP, Hon Janet Grace Okori-Moe also raised concerns over the availability of inputs to facilitate farmers especially coffee seedlings, noting that many nursery bed operators had stopped stocking seedlings.
MPs also tasked Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) to improve branding and awareness of Ugandan manufactured coffee products, adding that a budget ought to be availed for the purpose of branding so as to attract market for Ugandan products.
“We need to increase budgeting towards improved branding of our products. People are buying our coffee, repackaging it and selling it back to us. This goes against the Buy Uganda Build Uganda policy,” noted Hon. Lilly Adong (Ind, Nwoya).
UCDA board chairperson, Perez Bukumunhe said that there are few extension workers specializing in coffee management with each available extension worker catering for three districts.
“Currently, UCDA has 51 extension workers on the ground but we are working hard to increase the number and have listed this among the unfunded priorities,” says Bukumunhe.
Bukumunhe led a team of officials this week to present the 2019/2020 ministerial policy statement for Uganda Coffee Development Authority, to MPs on the Parliamentary Committee of Agriculture.
Bukumunhe attributed the limited availability of seedlings to arrears of over shs161 billion, adding that “the Authority requires a total of shs105 billon to generate and distribute 300 million seedlings but the current provision of shs73.5 billion leaves a funding gap”.
Apollo Kamugisha, the Director in charge of Production at UCDA called on the legislators to urgently follow up the proposed National Coffee Bill 2018, which also ought to include provisions for the management of cocoa growing in Uganda.
“The cocoa policy for Uganda is at ministerial level now, and since its systems of production are similar to coffee, the Coffee Bill can handle this and hit two birds with one stone,” said Kamugisha.
The sector’s unfunded priories include coffee rehabilitation, strengthening farmer organizations, value addition and water for production among others, all totalling up to shs109 billion.