Coffee farmers in Masindi district want government to establish a coffee processing machine within the district, saying that they produce enough coffee to sustain it.
Masindi district has four active coffee cooperatives, namely: Bwijanga Coffee Cooperative Society Limited, Karujubu Coffee Cooperative Society Limited, Pakanyi Coffee Cooperative Society Limited and Alimugonza Coffee Cooperative Society Limited.
Bendicto Ssensaga, the Chairperson, Bwijanga Coffee Cooperative Society Limited the cooperative has over200 members, who own more than 600 acres of coffee.
“People have embraced the cooperative after realising the importance of bulking together; farmers no longer need to sell separately,” Ssensaga said.
He added that the quality of coffee produced by the cooperative has been boosted by training members on how to produce quality coffee and on postharvest handling..
Julius Katusabe, the Chairperson, Pakanyi Coffee Cooperative Society Limited, says that his members have over 200 acres of coffee. Moreover, with more than 500 new coffee farmers expected to join the cooperative soon, he predicts a drastic increase in production over the next two to three years.
Moses Kalyegira, the District Commercial Officer, Masindi, said that all the coffee cooperatives in the district are very active, and each of their members owns at least 2 acres of coffee plantation.
“With this capacity, they are fit to receive the coffee processing hurler since they have enough coffee to feed it,” he said.
Julius Twiine the Regional Coffee Extension Officer, is also of the opinion that Masindi’s farmers are justified in demanding for the coffee hurler.
“The volumes they are producing have extremely increased. Currently coffee farmers in Masindi are producing between 50- 70 tonnes of coffee per season,” he said, adding that the volumes are projected to grow even higher.
“I am expecting the volumes to increase to 200 tonnes per season since Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) has given out millions of coffee seedlings to farmers across the district. In addition, this season UCDA has given out 274 bags of fertilizers and other chemicals to coffee farmers as one way of boosting their production.”
Twiine says Masindi district urgently needs a coffee hurler in order to curb the influence of middlemen who “cheat” farmers every season.
He also called upon private players to invest in the primary processing of hurling since production volumes are going to increase rapidly.
Improved agricultural practices
Twiine is optimistic that as more farmers embrace good agricultural practices, the quality and quantities of coffee produced in the district will improve.
”Now farmers are able to produce quality coffee due to the trainings we have offered to them. For example, these days farmers have stopped harvesting unripe coffee or drying it on the bare ground,” he noted.
The government of Uganda through UCDA has been encouraging farmers to embrace coffee growing and has supplied millions of coffee seedlings to farmers through the Operation Wealth Creation programme.