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Armed with coffee, Uganda’s women, youth look to secure land tenure

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The goal is to put coffee-farming in the hands of young people by encouraging land-owning farmers to let younger family members use their land

KYAMPUNGU, Uganda, Dec 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Like many young rural Ugandans, Christine Kyakunda needs more land. She and her husband farm 1.5 acres – some inherited, some bought, some borrowed from her widowed mother-in-law – but it is not enough to provide for her family.

“My kids now eat potatoes, cassava and beans,” the 23-year-old said of the crops, which are eaten by the poorest, and that they grow on one-third of their holding in Kyampungu, a small village in the country’s southwest.

The remaining two-thirds is covered in coffee shrubs. Coffee has become lucrative in recent years, and more land would mean more money. Then, she said, her children – aged six and two – “would be eating bread, milk with sugar, and eggs”.

She could also benefit from having better access to markets. A project launched earlier this year in Kanungu district, where she lives, should help her and other young people who struggle to access land.

Along with other smallholders, Kyakunda is optimistic that the three-year European Union-funded project will enable her family to get more land and improve their livelihoods.

Mukasa Joseph, who drives a motorcycle taxi known as a boda boda, is one of those. He has grown coffee for five years, but a lack of land means he struggles to earn enough.

More land would also allow him to buy a taxi, he said. That would boost his status from “a boda boda rider to a taxi driver”.

Since March, officials have been recruiting and training staff, and talking to communities, said Sam Viney, communications officer for Farm Africa, a charity involved with the project.

The goal is to put coffee-farming in the hands of 3,600 young people. It will do that by encouraging land-owning farmers to let younger family members use some of their land for growing the bean.

“We will engage communities through workshops to sign community land-use agreements that give youths and women access to land,” said project coordinator Amodoi Vincent.

With those agreements in place, young men and women would not only “have access to land but will also have control over it,” said Viney.

“Some of the farmers we have met have tens or even hundreds of acres of land, but some of the young farmers are working on less than two or three acres,” Viney said.

NATIONWIDE ISSUE

Farming is about access to land, said Fredrick Muhanguzi, the farmers’ organisation specialist at the ministry of agriculture, animal industry and fisheries.

But most parents, he said, do not want to hand their children land on which to grow perennial crops – such as coffee – that have a cycle longer than two years and which are therefore considered a long-term investment.

“This is the reason coffee-farming is looked at as an enterprise of old people,” he said, adding that when the ministry hands out free coffee seedlings, young people are reluctant to take them, because they have nowhere to plant them.

“Coffee farming is only in the hands of those aged 60 and above,” he said.

The project will tackle a linked issue: unemployment. Some 78 percent of Uganda’s 37.6 million people are under 30, the 2014 census showed.

The Uganda Bureau of Statistics said that under its loose definition of unemployment, 16.4 percent of those 16-30 were jobless as of 2015.

Half an acre of land would allow an unemployed person to make a living from coffee, said Joshua Rukundo, who heads the Kigezi Coffee Development Academy, a locally-based community group. That would bring fundamental changes.

“Even if it is half an acre and you give it to your child to grow coffee now, in a period of three years it is a done deal of harvesting coffee,” Rukundo said.

According to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), a single acre can host 450 Robusta coffee trees or 600 Arabica trees. Each tree can yield 10 kilogrammes of coffee a year, with each kilogramme worth about 4,000 Ugandan shillings ($1).

One acre, then, can generate average monthly revenues of up to $500, a large sum in Uganda where the employed earn an average 416,000 shillings ($110) a month, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics’ national household survey of 2013.

Landscape shot of Kanungu district, Uganda, October 3, 2018. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Fredrick Mugira

EXPORT ANGLE

The project will not only train young people to grow quality coffee; it will teach them the skills to process it and connect them to new markets, including for export, said Daniel Mugura, business development officer for Farm Africa.

To that end, the project will work with four coffee-growing cooperatives, he said.

“We will help them … access coffee-processing machinery to process and add value to their coffee – and be able to supply the bigger markets nationally and internationally where they are able to get better prices,” he said.

Seventy-year-old George Tibamwenda, a retired priest, chairs one of the cooperatives involved in nearby Rugyeyo village.

He is enthusiastic about the project’s ability to provide land and employment to young people.

He is also a big fan of coffee – it has, he said, been good to him since he started growing it in 2011 on three acres of his land. His remaining three acres are divided between bananas and tea.

His income from coffee had allowed him a much better life, he said, and he hopes his children – who are aged between 26 and 46 – will follow in his footsteps and earn enough to build their own homes, buy land and send their children to good schools.

Looking ahead, said Allawi Ssemanda, a youth activist and PhD student with an interest in land governance, it was not just parents who were to blame for hanging on to idle land: politicians and cultural institutions were also guilty.

The solution, he said, was heavy taxation of unused land “to force (owners) to give it to youths at a small fee or no cost to make it productive”, and for government to lease its land at low cost to young people for farming.

-Reuters

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Uganda’s coffee industry eyes new markets, value addition

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But the country still has a lot of coffee that is still being dried on the ground

Kampala, Uganda  Uganda’s coffee industry will seek new international market for their products to reduce over concentration on traditional buyers to boost farmer’s income.

Coffee is the country’s second biggest source of foreign exchange after tourism and provides a living for around 8 million people or about 19% of the population.

“In 2017, stakeholders in the coffee industry discussed the coffee road map on how to accelerate production but also increase income to the farmers,” said Emmanuel Niyibigira, managing director of the regulator, Uganda Coffee Development Authority.

“They were concerned that we need to have value addition for our coffee but also have the demand. We are looking at some markets such as China which has 1.4billion people and it is an emerging market. We are also looking at Middle East, Maghreb region, Eastern Europe though now we have this conflict (between Russia and Urkaine) and also the Balkan states.”

Uganda exports most of its coffee to Italy, Germany, Algeria, India and Sudan.

Niyibigira, who was speaking during the Agribusiness Mkutano 2022 at Mestil Hotel in Kampala on April.28, said the regulator is looking forward to supporting   local coffee businesses for value addition including soluble coffee processing plants.

He said the government aims to ensure that the country has at least two soluble coffee plants in the next five years. He said UCDA and the Uganda Development Corporation, a government investment arm, are carrying out a feasibility study to ascertain its viability.

The country has 38 registered coffee roasters although the government’s plan to have a soluble coffee plant has been on the table since 1994.

“We are also looking at branding our coffee. Most of our coffee is being exported and blended with other coffees due to its good aroma. We need to be recognized as an origin of Ugandan coffee,” Niyibigira said, adding that it is unacceptable that countries including  India, Vietnam and others in Latin America, which also produce huge volumes of coffee, import Ugandan coffee beans especially Robusta  only to blend with their coffees to boost  aroma and  fetch premium prices on the international market.

Niyibigira, however, noted that the industry still faces some challenges.

“We still have a lot of coffee that is still being dried on the ground,” he said, adding that low bean sizes, low productivity as well as pests and diseases are being addressed with new coffee varieties.

Tony Mugoya, the executive director at the Uganda Coffee Farmers Alliance said as the country pursues value addition in the coffee industry, farmers should be able to sale their products to the highest bidder.

“Uganda is a free market economy and us as farmers, we shall give our coffee to anyone who offers the highest price. That is all we want,” he said. “So the more the people or companies in the market, the more competition and the better for us.”

The government has in past weeks faced opposition over its move to exclusively grant Enrica Pinetti-owned Uganda Vinci Coffee Company to purchase and export the country’s coffee.

Mugoya said as the country embrace value addition, they should be aware of the existing tariff and non-tariff barriers in the international market.

Joseph Nkandu, the executive director of the National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises (Nucafe) said value addition in coffee need to be in the entire value chain.

“Farmers need to own the value addition component beyond the farm level as it enhances their income,” he said.

Nkandu said countries such as Uganda striving to embrace value addition need to enter into partnerships in targeted markets so that the product is easily accepted.

Martha Wandera, managing director at Kimco Coffee Ltd said the government should probably consider setting up a production plant for production of packaging materials for processed coffee to lower coffee prices  stimulate local demand.

She said also suggests that the costs of accessing quality mark be reduced to encourage coffee producers to access the services.

Uganda’s coffee export volumes and earnings has consistently grown over the past 20 years and accounts for 7% of the world’s production.

Last year, farmers exported 6.49million 60 kg bags of coffee worth US$629.8million compared to 5.36million 60kg bags in the 2019/2020 season worth US$512.22million in the previous year.

Source: The Independent 

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Uganda losing agricultural advantage to neighbours – UN.

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Although women are mostly involved in agricultural production, when it comes to marketing of produce, it is the men who dominate the decision-making.

What you need to know:

  • Speaking during the Agribusiness Mkutano (conference) in Kampala, Dr Dmitry Pozhidaev, the United Nations Capital Development Fund country and regional head, said before the 2000s, Uganda was ahead of all East African member states in terms of agriculture productivity, but Rwanda and Kenya have since become superior.

Uganda is losing its agricultural productivity advantage to neighboring countries due to lack of sufficient development in the sector, according to the United Nations Capital Development Fund.
Speaking during the Agribusiness Mkutano (conference) in Kampala, Dr Dmitry Pozhidaev, the United Nations Capital Development Fund country and regional head, said before the 2000s, Uganda was ahead of all East African member states in terms of agriculture productivity, but Rwanda and Kenya have since become superior.

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“Uganda has lost the agricultural productivity advantage [it held] over Rwanda in the early 2000s. It now lags behind Kenya and is much more behind South Africa,” he said, noting that because of low productivity, a number of people have moved to other sectors of economy yet they have low absorption capacity thus exacerbating unemployment.

Dr Pozhidaev also noted that since the 2000s, productivity in the services sector has doubled while that of manufacturing continues to fluctuate.
Under the National Development Plan II, government had sought to realise a 2.2 percent annual increase in agricultural productivity and increase in labour productivity by 40 percent.
However, this has not been achieved, thus frustrating the fight against unemployment in a country where 600,000 youth annually enter the job market.
Therefore, Dr Pozhidaev said, there is need to develop targeted policies, knowledge sharing, skill development and financing of improved agricultural productivity is to be achieved.

The Agribusiness Mkutano under the theme: Uganda@60: Fulfiling the agro-industrialisation agenda for Uganda seeks to reconginse the entire value addition chains as an important player in the fight against unemployment and industrialisation.
Ms Mona Muguma Ssebuliba, the aBi chief executive officer, said there is need to ensure that farmers access credit and grant to improve productivity.
For instance, she noted, aBi was playing a key role in supporting agribusinesses actors in coffee, dairy, cereals, horticulture, oil seeds and poultry value chain to increase their capacity to produce large quantities and quality commodities as well as supporting them with a number of processes to sufficiently supply both the local and international markets.

In the coffee value chain alone, Ms Ssebuliba said, aBi has in the last three years invested Shs17.7b to promote agro-industrialisation with specific interventions seeking to support establishment of coffee hurlers, coffee washing stations and capacity building to access international and niche markets.

Original Source: Monitor

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Tsetse flies invade Kiruhura district

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Tsetse flies spread nagana in livestock.

Kiruhura, Uganda. Kiruhura district has been invaded by tsetse flies with the residents calling for government support to eradicate the pests that have seen several cattle in the area die.

Nyabushozi County Member of Parliament, Wilson Kajwengye raised the matter of national importance during a plenary sitting on Tuesday, 03 May 2022 chaired by Speaker Anita Among.

Kajwengye said that for the past five years, cattle farmers in Kiruhura have borne the burden of fighting tsetse flies, whose cost he said was exorbitant and discouraging to commercial cattle farmers.

“Unfortunately, we have lost the battle because the disease is chronic and cows lose weight. The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has intervened but minimally,” said Kajwengye.

He said that an estimated 100,000 herds of cattle have been affected by the diseases caused by the flies.

Kajwengye said Kiruhura has registered notable financial loss resulting from the decline in milk and beef production.

“It is estimated that the district has lost Shs26 billion and Shs15 billion from sales of milk and beef respectively,” he said.

He prayed that the Ministry of Agriculture should urgently procure and distribute tsetse fly traps saying they are easy to use and are environmentally friendly.

Kajwengye also asked government to urgently provide equipment and other necessary laboratory consumables to Kiruhura district veterinary laboratory, which he said would help improve surveillance.

He also appealed to the ministry to work with the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Antiquities to carryout studies on tsetse fly control measures that would include development of an appropriate acaricide that kills tsetse flies.

Speaker Among said she received similar reports from residents during her recent visit to Kiruhura and asked the Agriculture Ministry to urgently assess the disease burden in the district.

“I think what you need to do is to send a team there to assess the level of the damage that has been caused,” she said.

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