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Catholic bishop urges diocesan leaders to help coffee farmer form associations

KASESE, April 24, 2024 – The Bishop of Kasese Catholic Diocese, Francis Kibira Acquirinus has challenged the leadership of Hoima Catholic Diocese to organise coffee farmers into associations, saying this would help the growers to speak with one voice when marketing their produce.

“Organise the farmers involved in coffee growing in the entire Hoima Catholic Diocese into associations such that they are able to speak with one voice when bargaining. This will also help them to learn from each other the best agronomic practices,” said Kibira.

The bishop made the remarks recently as Catholic bishops from western Uganda were on a benchmarking tour of Hoima Catholic Diocese.

The bishops who also visited Masindi Vicariate in Hoima included Vincent Kirabo of Hoima Catholic Diocese, Robert Muhiirwa of Fort Portal Catholic Diocese, Lambert Bainomugisha, Archbishop Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mbarara, Acquirinus Kibira of Kasese Catholic Diocese and Callistus Rubaramira of Kabale Catholic Diocese.

The clergy were excited by coffee demonstration gardens where best agronomic practices are showcased for the benefit of the farmers.

In 2019, Hoima Catholic Diocese signed a Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] with Uganda Coffee Development Authority [UCDA] to promote coffee growing amongst the Catholic believers in the diocese.

According to UCDA’s Mathew Katasha Kwikiziria, the MoU has sparked coffee growing in the area.

Katasha explained that Hoima Catholic Diocese has about 30 acres of demonstration centres for coffee plantations in different Catholic parishes like Nyamigisa in Masindi district, Kisabagwa and Bujumbura in Hoima district and in Kyangwali in Kikuube district.

“Using these demonstration centres, we have been able to multiply coffee seedlings. We also conduct trainings for different people. I thank Hoima Catholic Diocese for supporting coffee growing because  it will spur development development,” Katasha noted.

He added that coffee is a high valuable crop noting that one can earn Shs 14 million from one acre.

Challenges

Katasha however, explained that some farmers not maintaining standards of good quality coffee production, urging the clergy to always sensitise the faithful on the importance of maintaining quality standards.

“People are still harvesting unripe coffee hence compromising the quality. Unripe coffee kills the aroma and the test. Uganda’s coffee has a unique aroma in the whole world and that’s the competitive advantage we have as a country. People should know that harvesting unripe coffee is punishable and if found guilty one can be convicted to four years in prison, according to Coffee Act,” he said.

He said coffee farmers also encounter financial challenges. Most people can’t afford buying the recommended coffee seedlings. We would have had many MoUs with different religious institutions but now we have been affected by the proposed rationalisation of government agencies of which UCDA is among. The issue of merger has  significantly affected many of our processes,” he said, arguing that UCDA should be left to carry out its mandate.

Julius Twine, UCDA’s Extension Coordinator in charge of Masindi and Kiryandongo districts explaining to the clergy how coffee production is best managed (Photo by Yosam Gucwaki).

On his part, Julius Twine, Extension Coordinator for UCDA in charge of Masindi and Kiryandongo districts urged farmers to grow colonal coffee, saying it is high yielding and resistant to diseases.

Rev. Father Joseph Birungi, the Vicar Masindi Vicariate said they have established a plantation of eight acres of coffee as a motivation for Christian believers to establish their own for improved household incomes .

“Following our partnership with UCDA, many people have now picked interest in coffee growing. However the only challenge we have is accessing coffee seedlings. At first we would get them from UCDA at no cost. My prayer to government is to go back to the method of distributing coffee seedlings at no cost because it had boosted coffee growing.

Bishop Kirabo Hoima Catholic Diocese has introduced various projects aimed at improving the wellbeing of the faithful.

“As we preach the word of God, we want to ensure that believers are  hardworking, have money and can be able to have model families, with their children going to school,” he said.

He added: “As a Church, we want to see people who are well off because they can be able to support the Church.”

On her part, Florence Asiimwe, the Masindi District Woman Member of Parliament promised to lobby so that UCDA is not abolished so that its functions are directed back to the mother Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries [MAAIF].

She commended Hoima Catholic Diocese for complimenting government programmes like Emyooga and the Parish Development Model [PDM] among others.

https://thecooperator.news/farmers-in-lango-urged-to-join-lira-diocese-multi-purpose-cooperative-society-limited/

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