KAMPALA- Uganda, Africa’s biggest coffee exporter, wants to develop a coffee bean that is resistant to drought to help mitigate the impact of climate change on its crop, the state-run industry regulator said on Tuesday.
The east African nation expects to export 3.50 million 60-kg bags in the 2013/14 (Oct-Sept) coffee season, a fraction below the previous year’s 3.58 million bags and has cited low rainfall as one reason for the lower yield.
“We have to have (coffee) varieties that are adaptable to climate change,” Henry Ngabirano, managing director of the state-run Uganda coffee development authority (UCDA), told Reuters.
“Now that we have the effects of climate change being felt, the research efforts will be able to address this by say developing drought tolerant or resistant material or coming up with varieties that use less water.”
British charity Oxfam warned in 2008 that changing weather patterns in Uganda could leave much of Uganda unsuitable for growing coffee within 30 years if temperatures rose by 2 degrees or more. Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Richard Lough and Keiron Henderson
By Billy Rwothungeyo
Coffee farmers in Uganda should expect to up their productivity and better their incomes with increased access to reliable inputs, improved technologies, extension services and more participation in post farm processes with the launch of the national coffee policy.
The policy was launched at the Coffee Research Institute at Kituza in Mukono district.
The launch comes after Cabinet’s approval of the policy in August that aims to boost coffee production and push Uganda back to the helm of coffee production on the African continent.
Speaking at a media briefing ahead of the launch, Prof. Zerubabel Mujumbi, the agriculture state minister, said the policy will strengthen the coffee research system so that it is responsive to industry requirements and demands.
“The policy aims at supporting and strengthening coffee farmer organisations to participate effectively in all the stages of the coffee value chain,” he said.
Mujumbi added that the policy will streamline and strengthen existing coffee laws and regulations at all stages of the value chain.
The policy also aims to promote domestic consumption of coffee to enhance coffee industry competitiveness and develop the local market.
The current development strategy and investment plan of the ministry of agriculture, animal industry and fisheries prioritises coffee as the second ranked enterprise on a list of 17 commodities.
Coffee has been contributing an annual average of 20% of Uganda’s total export revenue over the last 10 years. The lack of a comprehensive policy has condemned the coffee subsector to low production due to low acreage, yields and limited participation in post farm processes. As a result, coffee production in Uganda has stagnated at three million bags per year over the last past two decades.