Coffee plays a leading role in the livelihood of Ugandans and contributes substantially to the national economy. Nearly 42% of farming households (1.7 million, 21% of the population) grow some coffee and coffee has contributed an average 30% to the country’s foreign exchange earnings over the past 20 years.The Government of Uganda regards coffee as a strategic commodity whose development should be accelerated to enhance agricultural production and productivity.Uganda has generally favourable farming conditions for coffee in terms of altitude, climate, rainfall and soils. Coffee is available throughout the year due to equatorial conditions. However many areas face declining soil fertility. Over the next 25 years, the effects of climate change pose real threats in terms of increasing temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events such as floods and droughts. This may affect pests and diseases prevalence.
Robusta Coffee unlike in many other countries, it is grown at a relatively high altitudes of 1,100 up to 1,500 meters above sea level in the areas of Central, Eastern, Western and South Western Uganda.
Arabica production occurs between 1,500 and 2,300 metres above sea level primarily in the Mount Elgon region in the East, the Rwenzori Mountains in the west, the Kabale region in the Southwest, and most recently in the North East.
The ratio of Arabica to Robusta coffee produced in Uganda is currently approximately 1:4.
It is estimated that only 15% of smallholder coffee farmers are members of a group, association, organisation or cooperative which enable them to benefit from economies of scale, collective marketing and to increase their productivity and access to markets.
Low usage of value addition technologies at farmer levels and low level of investment in medium and large-scale farming. Coffee is perceived to be an unattractive commercial investment. Producers have limited capacity to absorb shocks e.g. price volatility.
At the moment, coffee farmers make little use of chemical and organic fertilisers, and carry out almost no pruning at all. Effective use of high quality inputs is a key condition for sustainable increases in productivity. Farmers depend on middlemen who fill the gap but charge high rates. Stumping and rejuvenation, as well as upgrading processing machinery and tools, are also important but require long-term credit lines. Access to credit has been a milestone in coffee development in all coffee producing countries. There is weak enforcement regarding the quality of agricultural inputs generally and significant volumes of counterfeit products are in circulation.
There is currently little value addition at farm level and coffee farmers continue to sell unprocessed coffee resulting in lower earnings than if they were selling processed coffee at the farmgate stage.
A recent study confirmed that coffee (both Arabica and Robusta) is one of the crops in Uganda that is the most vulnerable to climate change - the projected rising temperatures and increasingly-erratic rainfall patterns will lead to reduced productivity and a greater likelihood of pests and diseases
not optimised due to poor handling and processing practices and weak local level enforcement of regulations. The result of these is quality deterioration through different malpractices.
On the side of farmers, quality is compromised by:
On the side of middlemen:
Cooperatives are viewed as central in mobilizing and organizing farm level production, value addition, marketing, savings, financial intermediation and improving commodity storage at household and community level. The cooperatives are further seen as having the potential to greatly streamline marketing of agricultural commodities.
certifying Ugandan high quality coffees.
For roasters in consuming country, being able to communicate to consumers where the coffee was produced is an essential element for certified and niche market coffees. It also often guarantee to consumers that their coffee was produced in an ethical and environmentally sensitive manner, including safe working conditions, fair wages and safeguarding of natural resources.Full traceability offers advantages for multiple players along the value chain beyond certification systems
Smallholders usually rely on informal credit or advanced purchases from traders, sometimes selling the harvest before any fruit has been developed.