In an effort to achieve 20 million bags of coffee exports by 2025, Uganda through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has formed collaborations with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Vietnam is one of the biggest coffee exporters in the world with over 27.5 million bags exported per year, an increase from just 2 million bags in 1991. The Coffee sub-sector in Vietnam per now is worth US Dollars 3.2 Billion.
Recently Officials from the Ministry of agriculture led by Christopher Kibanzanga, the State Minister for Agriculture and the Board Chairman and Director for Development Services of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority traveled and held a bilateral engagement with officials from Vietnam led by Mr. Le Quoc Doanh, the Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to benchmark on strategies that Uganda can use to increase the quality of its coffee to improve its export volumes.
During the engagement that was held last month from 18th to 24th march 2019, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the representatives of two countries.
According to a statement from the Agriculture Ministry, the MoU will allow the two countries to exchange technicians and researchers, carry out study tours, seminars, trainings, exchange study programs, utilize laboratories, exchange notes on policies and government plans, develop market strategies for the international market among other things.
Coffee remains Uganda’s top agricultural export product. The government through the agriculture ministry has been working on strategies to increase production and quality of coffee with the main target of increasing the export volumes from the current about 5m bags to 20m bags per Year in 2025.
In 2014, Coffee generated over $410.1 million which is 31.7% of the Agricultural export revenues and maintained its position as the biggest agricultural export from Uganda with fish and fish products in second position, having generated over $134.8 million which is 10.4% of the total.
In the last financial year, Coffee fetched over $492 million representing a 19.9% increase in value of exports between 2014.
in April of 2017, the President of Uganda Museveni Kaguta launched the coffee sub-sector roadmap with a national target of reaching 20 million bags of coffee exported per year by 2025.
Coffee was also maintained among the 12 Priority Commodities in the Agriculture Sector Strategic Plan and the National Development Plan that was designed to guide Uganda’s development to Middle Income Status.
According to Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, MAAIF, government is working on the new strategies to ensure improved quality and quantity of the coffee beans in the country.
The Minister in official statement on strategies and new steps towards increased production of coffee for export released on Friday said the ministry through the newly instituted department of Agriculture infrastructure, mechanism and water for agricultural production is stepping up efforts towards promoting increased availability and access to water for agricultural production.
In addition, the ministry is emphasizing the promotion of use of appropriate fertilizers to improve coffee production and sensitization of farmers through the increased extension workers.
“From experience in economies that are performing better, applications of fertilizers can double the productivity per tree of Coffee. Fertilizers used in Uganda is currently estimated at about 4 kilograms per hectare, while in Vietnam it was reported to be about 1,200 kilograms per hectare,” he states.
And adds; “As earlier communicated, the Ministry has so far recruited 3,811 out of the initial target of 5000 extension workers across the country. The current extension worker to farming household ratio is about 1:1800. This is an improvement from the initial ratio of 1:5000 in the 2014/15 at the time of reform. The internationally accepted ratio is 1:500.”
According to Ssempijja, the minister has also stepped up training and agricultural education through institutions like Bukalasa Agricultural College, the National Farmers Leadership Centre (NFLC) and District Agricultural Training and Information Centers.
“I call upon farmers to work closely with the agricultural extension Officers and to join registered farmer groups so as to benefit from bulk marketing and bulk selling as well as other government programs that will be put in place,” he states.