The Uganda Coffee Development Authority-UCDA has started the process of introducing a new Coffee Wilt Disease Resistant (CWDR) variety in Kitgum and Lamwo districts, as one of the measures to increase coffee production by farmers.
Coffee growing was introduced in Kitgum in 2015. However, very few farmers have embraced the crop, and by January this year, statistics from the UCDA Kitgum office showed that only 24 farmers were growing the oldest cash crop and major foreign exchange earner for Uganda.
Data from UCDA indicates that farmers exported 6.49 million 60-kg bags of coffee for the 2020/21 season compared to 5.36 million 60-kg bags in the 2019/2020 season. Northern Uganda contributes the lowest per cent of coffee production, with only 6 per cent compared to the Central region which contributes 38 per cent, the highest in the country.
Beatrice Alela, the Regional Coffee Extension Officer with Uganda Coffee Development Authority, UCDA, attributed the dismal production of coffee in the district to negligence by farmers, which leaves the plantations prone to wildfires. She says that they will introduce the new variety because it is coffee wilt disease-resistant, high-yielding, and could give the farmers more returns.
Alela says they are targeting all the 44 parishes in Kitgum and 45 in Lamwo to have at least one model farmer to plant the coffee variety. She revealed that they have already identified, trained, and selected Parish Coffee Development Advisors in all the parishes registering to be the first to plant the coffee variety and be model farmers.
Alela adds that for one to be considered a model farmer, they need to dig the holes for planting the coffee and apply for the coffee cuttings. This is to ensure that the farmers with the know-how are chosen to introduce and multiply the coffee variety.
She says that the new variety was mainly being planted in Central Uganda, and there are only two nurseries for the variety in Acholi and Lango sub-regions. She encourages nursery bed operators to apply for getting coffee variety.
Alela howeve advises farmers applying to be model farmers to plant within April, so that their plants can survive the dry spell that is common between May and June.