Since 2008 there has been an effort by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) to introduce commercial production of coffee in Mid-Northern Uganda.
The idea, according to Apollo Kamugisha, Director Development Services, UCDA, is to fight poverty in the region and also to increase Uganda’s national annual coffee production from the current 4.6 million to 20 million bags by the year 2025.
Much of last week your columnist who is also a coffee farmer travelled with the members of the UCDA Board of Directors led by their chairman, Perez Bukumunhe, to a number of districts in Northern Uganda visiting coffee farmers, processors, and roasters and holding meetings with local leaders, cultural leaders, and agricultural extension staff to monitor and establish the progress so far made in introducing commercial coffee production in the region.
Until recently most of northern Uganda has been mainly growing annual crops like maize, cotton, beans, sim-sim, sunflower, soy bean, and cassava, among others.
It has now been established that Robusta coffee can be successfully grown in the sub-regions of Lango and Acholi and UCDA is implementing a pilot special intervention for commercial coffee production in the region where some farmers have already started growing the crop.
Omoro District Chairman, Peter Douglas Okello, told the visiting UCDA team that the district council had directed that each household was to allocate two acres to coffee growing.
The District Vice-chairman, Isaac Newton Ojok, went on to propose that every school in the district should have a two-acre-garden of coffee.
“The children will then learn to grow coffee and the School Management Committee will use the money earned from the garden to improve infrastructure on the school,” he said.
He also suggested that coffee demonstration gardens be established in every sub-county for all and sundry to learn from.
The following day Gulu RDC, Major Lapolo Santos who already has over ten acres of coffee, told the UCDA officials that government should make it compulsory for every school in the Acholi sub-region to have a school coffee garden so that coffee crop husbandry is introduced early to all the children.