Need for farmers’ coffee education

Saturday July 6 2019

 

By Michael J. Ssali

There has been a number of coffee farming related incidents in Masaka region in the past few weeks that beg for a comment in this column.

The coffee harvesting season is ongoing in the region but there are some farmers that have lost their harvests which have been confiscated and destroyed without any recourse to litigation by people claiming to be government officials out to fight bad harvesting practices such as drying coffee on the bare ground and harvesting unripe coffee.

In many instances the so called officials have been understood to receive cash inducements and left defaulters go scot free.
The same ‘government officials’ have invaded coffee hulling factories and closed them down for accepting coffee that does not meet the required moisture content.

However, for nearly all affected factories the closure has reportedly lasted only as long as the time their proprietors have taken to get ‘something small’ for the people that closed them.

Then we have had several reports in the local media that in Bukomansimbi District 40,000 coffee seedlings supplied by Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) were rejected by farmers on grounds of their poor quality.

Thousands of farmers are disappointed. A few of them planted superior coffee varieties and they are enjoying high yields. Others planted low quality varieties and have ended up with poor harvests.

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This means something is wrong, and it all points to our failure to pay sufficient attention to a cash crop on which our country’s economy so heavily depends.

Given its prominence as a source of foreign exchange, the coffee crop deserves space on the syllabus of all schools in the coffee growing regions of Uganda.

OWC funds can be used to put coffee demonstration gardens in the schools for the children to learn agronomy practices, how to harvest the crop, and all the recommended post-harvest practices.

The schools should also teach its marketing processes including formation and management of coffee cooperative societies.
School children should further be taught about the coffee journey, from the farm to the supermarket, and finally to the cup at the dining table.

— ssalimichaelj@gmail.com

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