Coffee Production in mid-Northern Uganda: Prospects and Challenges
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At the beginning of the 21st Century, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) introduced coffee in the mid-North sub region. This marked the beginning of the sub-region’s transition from dependency on annual crops such as cotton to a perennial crop. While the long-term objective of UCDA was to find ways of sustaining the coffee sector amidst the coffee wilt disease in the traditional coffee growing regions, the opening up of coffee growing opportunities to enhance the incomes of agricultural households in a former war-ravaged Mid-North was a well-conceived strategy. Several studies have demonstrated that coffee sector remains key in Uganda’s poverty reductions efforts as well as pointing to the limited poverty reduction effects among those households who depended mainly on annual crops such as cotton. This policy brief draws from the research paper by Mbowa et al. (2014)1 focusing mainly on the prospects and challenges of the coffee sector in the mid-North of Uganda. There is growing evidence in the sub-region that the systematic coffee planting by the UCDA has yielded positive results in the subregion. On average, there are 16,000 farmers with 10,045 hectares of coffee, and in 2013 coffee output was 154 metric tons and projected to increase to 16,323 metric tons by 2017 with start of harvesting of new planted trees. Apac, Lira, Nwoya and Oyam are among the districts with the highest potential for coffee production. Despite the faster adoption of coffee in the sub-region, there are challenges that need to be addressed if the UCDA’s objectives are to be realized. The major challenges relate to lack of organized marketing and processing infrastructure to support value addition; and inadequate coffee specialized extension support system to narrow the knowledge gap about recommended agronomic practices among farmers.