One of the main reasons why most people hesitate to grow coffee is that it takes a long time to mature and to begin paying. Yet coffee is one of the most reliable crops for income since it is the most important export commodity on the international market after oil.
In his state of the nation address early this month, President Museveni disclosed that during the Covid-19 total lockdown coffee alone earned our country $45.87m in March and $36.928m in April. Coffee is Uganda’s main cash crop and currently the biggest source of foreign exchange.
The fear that coffee takes long to mature and to pay should not be a barrier since these days, especially for those intending to grow cloned Robusta coffee there are varieties that take just between two and three years for the farmer to begin harvesting.
With good agronomical practices even Arabica coffee takes as long to begin paying. Moreover during the time of waiting after planting coffee the farmer can grow crops such as beans and groundnuts between the coffee rows to generate some income.
To shorten the period of waiting for coffee money it is advisable apply adequate fertilizer and to ensure the young coffee trees have sufficient water by doing some simple irrigation in case of prolonged drought.
Once the coffee farm has been established, harvesting is assured every year (usually two harvesting seasons annually) for almost the rest of the farmer’s life if good care of the crop is taken. It is a crop that will financially sustain a household financially even in the event that the husband or the wife dies if good management is maintained.
Once coffee is harvested and properly dried it can be stored by the farmer as he or she waits for prices to improve. It is not like tomatoes or mangoes that may get spoilt if buyers delay to come.
For people with some land who plan to retire in the next six years, growing coffee now would provide a soft landing.