Coffee farmers in Hoima are struggling to cope with the dry season as most of the farmers had just planted coffee distributed to them by Uganda Coffee Development Authority-UCDA and under operation wealth creation program.
Between August and November last year, UCDA and OWC distributed over 1.6million Robusta coffee seedlings in the Midwestern region and Hoima district alone received over 200,000 seedlings. But with the dry season setting in as early as Mid-December, farmers are struggling to protect their seedlings.
Annette Kabagenyi, a farmer from Kiduma in Hoima Municipality received 500 coffee seedlings and planted a 40×60 garden in October. She, however, says that soon after planting, the rains reduced.
Kabagenyi says she has struggled to maintain her young coffee farm by mulching and putting up shades. Despite this, the farmer says she has lost about 30 seedlings which dried up.
She also added that those who were near wetlands are the one having good coffee plantations because they keep on watering their gardens.
She plans to start watering her farm late February this year when the dry season is at its peak.
Johnson Katusiime from Kitoba Sub County received 300 seedlings which he planted in November in Dwoli village, Kitoba Sub County.
Katusiime says none of his seedlings have dried despite planting them at the start of the dry season. He says this has been as a result of constant mulching and provision of shades to the young coffee plants.
Despite all the challenges the farmers are going through, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority-UCDA has started registering farmers interested in coffee growing in Hoima and Kyankwanzi districts for this season.
Jackson Bagonza the coordinator UCDA in charge of Hoima and Kyankwanzi districts says no farmer will receive coffee seedlings without registering in the upcoming season.
He notes that previously, UCDA has been supplying coffee seedlings to farmers whether they are interested in coffee growing or not which he said affected productivity.
Bagonza says there has been lack of ownership of seedlings by farmers and this has left millions of coffee seedlings distributed but unplanted.
He adds that they will only register farmers with more than acre piece of land. Registration is ongoing at parish and sub-county headquarters.
Jackson Bagonza, however, says that he is not worried the farmers will survive the dry season, given the prior sensitization they received.
Bagonza says UCDA has done quite a number of farmer sensitization outreaches through coffee shows and sub-county sensitization meetings.
He says through demonstration farms, farmers have been sensitized on basic farm practices especially during dry seasons and pest and disease attack. The government last year set a 20 million target of coffee exports by 2020.