ANKOLE – Ankole Diocese and Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) have launched a partnership to plant coffee to improve household incomes and transform communities in Western Uganda.
According to Sedrack Muhangi, UCDA’s Regional Coffee Extension Officer, the coffee growing campaign is targeting about 46,000 households in the area.
Muhangi says UCDA has gave out 22,500 Robusta coffee seedlings and 100 kilograms of Arabica coffee seeds to the diocese during the launch of the partnership on July 19th, 2021 at Kinoni Archdeaconry in Rwampara district.
Muhangi says UCDA joined the partnership because they believe the church institution can use its structures to improve both quality and quantity coffee production within the region.
“The church has well laid structures and commands a big following so we believe it can be a reliable partner to improve coffee production in terms of quality and quantity in this region,” Muhangi noted, before adding that they will give in more coffee depending on demand and uptake.
He said from 22,500 seedlings, after maturity, the diocese can earn about Shs 27 million in a season as each coffee plant can yield up to three kilograms of Kase or Fair Average Quality (FAQ) coffee a season, which translates into 67,500kgs.
Ankole diocese Bishop Rt Rev Sheldon Mwesigwa said supporting farming is part of the diocese’s community and household transformation programme.
He added that religious leaders owe a big debt if they only concentrate on spiritual growth and neglect other basics to transform communities in totality like improving household incomes.
“We will be answerable to our God if we let our people continue suffering in poverty. You can’t claim spiritual growth of a church when your people are languishing in poverty because we serve to grow our communities spiritually and in economic growth, “Bishop Mwesigwa noted.
He added that the church should not be a burden to christians over numerous demands to run the ministry, adding this is the reason the diocese is emphasizing in having its own income generating projects.
Bishop Mwesigwa said they have numerous acres of land spread at their churches and all these would be used as demonstration farms, and seed distribution centers of different agricultural produce to farmers.
Emmy Kateera Turyabagyenyi, Rwampara Resident District Commissioner (RDC) who officiated the launch pointed that the partnership is a great achievement not only in improving household incomes but also spiritual growth.
“This is a well thought intervention because some churches are becoming a burden. Your christians are poor but you keep demanding them thanksgiving, tithes and other church contributions every Sunday and a believer who finds has no money has no alternative but shuns the church because of shame and stigma” Turyabagyenyi explains.
Simon Kwikiriza, the head of household and transformation department Ankole diocese says they are targeting to have their own coffee processing factory in the next 10 years with the view of exporting the diocese coffee.
Kwikiriza said the coffee seedlings will cover 50 acres out of the project target of 400 acres on the church land.
Ankole diocese has a total population of 230,000 christians, 488 churches and 74 parishes.
UCDA is working with different religious institutions across the country to promote coffee growing in line with the National Development Plan (NDP III) target of mindset change to promote development.
Away from Mbarara, UCDA also partnered with Hoima Catholic Diocese to promote coffee growing in Hoima district.
Dr. Emmanuel Lyamulemye, the Managing Director Uganda Coffee Development Authority stressed the need for the leadership of the diocese to mobilize families to increase incomes through coffee planting.
Lyamulemye further stressed that by 2050, there shall be a shortfall of 50 million bags thus a focus on Africans to meet that gap.
He asked locals in Hoima district to look at coffee as a business and a farmer’s bank through value addition both at production and market stages.
In conclusion, Lyamulemye revealed that the church is a centre of community with a role of educating people on business that can lead them to economic enhancement and development.
The meeting culminated into the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UCDA and Hoima diocese to facilitate coffee planting that can generate income to support the diocese’s short-term goals.
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