By Najib Mulema
Mr. Joseph Nkandu, the Executive Director of National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE) has urged the youths interested in joining the coffee production industry to first learn how the entire coffee value chain operates.
He says this will help the young people gain the required skills to push for improved productivity.
Mr. Nkandu made the remarks during Uganda’s first ever Coffee power talk which took place on Tuesday at Pearl of Africa Hotel in Kampala under the theme ‘Women and youth participation in the coffee value chain’.
We have not done enough to involve the youth; we need to fully empower them. As they come in, they should learn how the entire coffee value chain works since they need relevant skills to take coffee production to another level,” he said.
He also advised coffee farmers to embrace a holistic system (entire coffee chain should work together) in case they want to increase coffee production in the country.
Apparently Uganda produces over 4.7 million bags (60kg each) of coffee per annum.
However, the country has an ambitious target of reaching 20-25 million bags by 2025.
According to Mr. Nkandu if this is to be achieved, farmers must start doing things in a better and different way through intensification.
By intensification, Mr. Nkandu said the farmers should use the little land they have to plant more coffee but in a modified way.
“If we apply science, reduce spacing and boast productivity, we can still use the little land we have to increase on production,” revealed Mr. Nkandu.
Mr. Eduardo Sampaio, a Field Representative from Brazil, world’s top coffee producing country revealed that if a country like Uganda needs to increase on is productivity, it should involve more youths and women in coffee growing as it the case in his country.
He said Brazil’s produces over 50 million bags of coffee and exports 20 million bags thus contributing 35 percent of the world’s coffee market.
He also advised Ugandan coffee farmers to pick a leaf from Brazil through adopting new technologies, advanced agricultural research and an organized infrastructure of the production sector.
Mr. Eduardo said through embracing new models of farming, his country managed to increase production by 50 percent in the last 10 years without expansion of planted area.
On the same event Ms. Fortunate Paska from Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) expressed her concern over women’s less accessibility to resources like land and credit yet they present new market opportunities as buyers, suppliers and consumers of coffee.
She urged government to put up equal treatment and opportunities for all since the excluded women greatly contribute to the production of the lucrative cash crop.
Meanwhile, Hajj Ishak Lukenge, the Chairman of African Fine Coffee Association (Afca) revealed that his association is intending to take this power talk to other countries as well as making it regular in Uganda.
The event was organized by Afca and UTZ-Rainforest Alliance.