American university lends expertise to improve Uganda’s crop

A North Dakota State University (NDSU) production expert is working with Ugandan farmers to find ways to increase the country’s coffee production. Agronomist and Professor of Plant Science Hans Kandel has returned from almost a month in Uganda, gathering information for a collaborative project to improve production. Kandel evaluated the coffee production system, from input suppliers of chemicals and seed, right through to exporters. “Various Ugandan and international organisations, including USAID, have identified coffee as a commodity to concentrate on with development interventions,” said Kandel, in an NDSU statement. Kandel said coffee production constitutes 20 per cent of the Ugandan national export revenues. Uganda mostly produces Robusta, which is grown at an altitude of 2900 to 5000 feet. Considered to be one of the best Robustas in the world, most of Uganda’s coffee is exported to European Union counties. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is forecasting an increase in exports to 3.5 million bags in Marketing Year 2014-2015. Kandel’s recommendations are for farmers to use disease and pest-resistant Robusta varietals, prune and de-sucker coffee plants, control soil erosion and fight pest disease with pesticide. Kandel said soil nutrients can be improved using household compost, ashes, manure, mulch and artificial fertilizers. He said intercropping with legume-type crops has also been shown to increase productivity. “Changes in management often require a re-allocation of the family resources – land, labor, management time and cash – but if practiced intentionally, these changes could lead to a higher family income,” Kandel said. The International Coffee Organisation puts Uganda’s production at 3.8 million 60-kilogram bags in 2014, up from the 3.6 it produced in 2013, but slightly down from the 3.87 million bags it produced in 2012. African countries export about 21 per cent of internationally traded coffee.

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend