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How to earn more from coffee



Farmers are advised to harvest only the ripe cherries

Coffee farming and its value chain is considered to be an activity mainly undertaken by male famers.
Female farmers have been urged to engage in coffee production because it is a crop which brings cash on table.
As such, women farmers engaged in coffee value chain are now getting organised in groups across the country in order to increase their income.
The plant is said to be contributing 1.5 percent of the GDP to the country’s economy amounting Shs1.6 trillion per annum
International Women Coffee Alliance Uganda Chapter has come up with a strategy of mobilising female coffee farmers across the country in a bid to produce quality coffee and increase yields.
Ms Teopista Nakkungu the country director of the organisation contends that women are good at tending to their farm produce and if engaged in coffee farming and following the right agronomy practices the yield can increase by 40 percent.

Conditions for growing coffee
Robusta coffee can be grown in a place located 800-1500 metres above sea level with rainfall of 1200-1500mm per year under the temperature of between 18-27 degrees Celsius.
Arabica coffee can be grown in a place of 1300-2200 metres above sea level with rainfall requirement of 1200-1500mm per year under temperatures of between 15 and 24 degrees Celsius.
The soil type is deep well drained fertile loam soil. Coffee requires fertile soils with high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Land preparation
Farmers are expected to prepare the land during dry season and ensure that they remove excess trees and stumps but leave some mature trees for shade.
Remove weeds by digging, hand picking perennial weeds or applying herbicides and build contour terraces, bands, grass strips and cut-off drains to prevent soil erosion.

Farmers are required to plant Robusta coffee in lines at a spacing of 10ft x 10ft and the seedlings rated at 450 trees per acre. For Arabica, the lines at a spacing of 8ft x 8ft with seedling rating of 680 trees per acre is required.
“Dig round holes and heap the fertile topsoil separate from the subsoil. Refill the holes with topsoil mixed with a basin of manure and a handful of DAP or SSP fertiliser,” says Nakkungu. The farmer is also advised to heap the soil above the ground level.

Seedlings and varieties
Obtain all planting materials from a certified source such as Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA). Farmers may raise their own seedlings using seeds or cuttings from a certified source.
The recommended varieties include NARO Kituza Robusta 8, NARO Kituza Robusta 9 and NARO Kituza Robusta 10 which were released last year.

Other varieties are KituuzaR1- R7 which are resistant to the coffee wilt disease
Farmers must plant two weeks after the onset of rains, trim off roots protruding beyond the polythene pots and remove polythene pots from potted plants before planting.

Farmers are expected to bend the six- month old coffee plants up to 45 degrees and along rows to stimulate growth of suckers. Allow only 2-4 healthy looking suckers which originate at about 0.5-1 foot from the base of the plant. Remove weeds in gardens of young coffee of up to a year old by digging and slashing or mulching.
Remove weeds in old coffee gardens by mulching, or alternating digging and slashing with herbicide spraying outside the canopy.
Ring weed below the canopy to avoid damage to the plant during slashing or spraying.

Remove unwanted stems and suckers and unproductive branches using secateurs or pruning saws. This encourages new growth and improves productivity. Remove broken stems or unproductive whole or part stems using a pruning saw to reduce pest infestation from the soil.

Stump coffee after seven years to renew the stem cycle and improve productivity. Leave a breather stem which should be removed six months after stumping. Stumping can be either staggered or clean stumping. If staggered, stump one in three trees every year so the entire garden is stumped over a three-year period.
Get help from the extension staff or a knowledgeable farmer when stumping coffee for the first time. The stumping should be at least 450 and sloping away from the breather stem.

Mulch coffee gardens with up to six inches of maize straw, bean trash, banana leaves, grasses or any other dead plant materials to conserve moisture, control weeds and soil erosion, and add nutrients to the soil.
Place the mulch one foot from the coffee stem to prevent infection from collar rot or attack from ants and termites.

Water conservation
Digging pits/troughs at some points of the terrace preserves rain water. Add a small amount of oil to the water trapped in the pits/troughs to prevent breeding of mosquitoes. Mulch coffee to prevent soil erosion and retain soil moisture. Plant cover crops such as mucuna, phaseolus beans, lablab and groundnuts. Plant shade trees such as bananas and grass at the edges of the gardens including ridges, terraces and contour bands.

Pests and diseases
The main pests are black twig borer, root mealy bug and white stem borer. Others are coffee berry borer and antestia bug, which affects Arabica only.
The diseases include coffee wilt disease (Robusta only), Leaf rust (mainly Arabica), Coffee berry disease (Arabica only) and Red blister disease.
Farmers are expected to control it using recommended pesticides and disease resistant varieties.

Do not strip all cherries off the branch, harvest only fully ripe cherries because unripe cherries will form black beans.
Overripe cherries give defects such as discoloured coffee beans, fermented and off flavours to the coffee cup. Ripe cherries give better quality coffee and therefore more money.
Keep harvested coffee cherries in containers such as baskets. Do not dry the coffee on bare earth as this results in soil microbial contamination.

Original Post: Daily Monitor

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Lack of Agronomists worries grape farmers in Mbarara



Grape farmers in Mbarara are concerned that they are earning less from the crop due to the absence of an agronomist to offer expertise on the processes for growing and harvesting the crop.

There are more than 200 grape farmers in Ibaare, Nyamatojo and Nyakayojo, all in the South Division of Mbarara City, where more than three hills are fully covered with the crop. They are mainly planting Muscat and Karmen, which thrive well in semi-arid areas.

But the farmers said that they are growing the crop without clear information on the ideal varieties of grapes grown in Uganda, and knowledge of soil management, site preparation, planting, pruning, pest and disease control, fertilizer application as well as harvesting.

By nature of their work, agronomists work with farmers to help them grow the best possible crops, based on their extensive knowledge of chemistry, biology, economics, earth science, ecology, and genetics. They usually conduct experiments to develop the best methods for increasing the quality and production of crops and develop methods for protecting crops from weeds, pests, and harsh climates.

Alex Asiimwe, the Chairperson of Mbarara Grape Farmers Cooperative Limited said that without a specialist in the region, many of them are left to gamble with the crop. Often, he says, they struggle to manage the spread of pests in grape plantations.

James Mugabi, a grape farmer said he once lost more than 25 tons of grapes to fungus, which he didn’t know and failed to get the best drug. He narrates that once the crop has been attacked by either a pest or disease, the entire plantation is destroyed.

Allan Namanya, a grapes farmer from Katojo said the absence of an agronomist is costing them a lot since grapes are considered the most lucrative crop at the moment. He says that a kilogram of grapes costs between 2,500 and 3,000 Shillings and a bottle of wine costs 20,000, yet it can even cost much higher than this if they are advised on the right farming practices.

Mbarara city Agricultural Officer, Vincent Mugabi, said that the department also has a shortage of personnel knowledgeable about the relatively new crop for the area. He wants the government to consider taking them for training to acquire knowledge.

Grapes are harvested twice a year, in April/May and November/December seasons. They were introduced in Mbarara at Nyamitanga hill the Catholic seat by missionaries in the 1960s.

Original Source: URA via The Independent

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Farmers in Napak want security forces deployed in gardens



A section of farmers in Napak District is demanding for the deployment of security personnel in gardens to prevent attacks by suspected Karamojong warriors.

This follows a message that was sent to one of the phones belonging to the community member in Nabwal sub county threatening people to stop cultivation or else their cattle will be stolen. Suspected warriors have also been dropping leaflets in the villages warning farmers of possible attacks in case they risk going to cultivate in their gardens.

Robert Koryang, a resident of Lotome trading center, says that they are worried of going to their farm gardens which are far away from their home because of threats from the cattle raiders.

Koryang said the warriors are still hunting for cattle and they see the farming season as an opportunity to target farmers who use oxen for ploughing.

He observed that the persistent insecurity in the region frustrated their efforts to cultivate last year leading to a hunger crisis.

Judith Anyakun, another farmer recalls that early last year a suspected raider chased them out of their farms before making off with four oxen that were used for ploughing.

She suggested that the security forces should be deployed in their settlements nearer to the fields so that they are able to respond to any attack that may occur during farm activities.

John Paul Kodet, the LCV Chairperson for Napak, says that they are taking the threats seriously because the warriors have been issuing warnings to the communities before attacking.

Kodet said they have distributed seeds to the farmers but he is skeptical if communities shall be able to cultivate due to threats from suspected warriors.

He noted that some villages in the sub-counties of Lopei, Lokopo, and Lotome are very distant from the military installations and this puts them at high risk of being attacked.

Kodet appealed to the government to tighten security in the targeted areas such that people will be able to cultivate without fear.

Denis Okori, the Napak Resident District Commissioner said that the security forces already have the intelligence about the planned attacks and measures have been put in place to protect the communities.

Okori said they have designed strategic plans on how the deployment will be conducted and therefore farmers should not get worried because the government is trying everything possible to ensure there is peace.

He also confirmed receipt of the phone used for sending threats and it has been taken to the Internal Security Organization for tracking.

Okori urged the communities not to worry but instead clear the gardens for farming in order to fight hunger in the families as security does its part to protect them.

Last year, the residents of Napak district suspended the use of oxen for ploughing over fears of being attacked by suspected warriors. The cattle were only kept from the confined kraals and only released during the day for grazing, and returned in the evening when the army took responsibility for keeping them.

Original Source: URN via The Independent

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Mbarara struggling to contain Rift Valley Fever, no livestock quarantine yet



The government is reluctant at imposing the livestock quarantine on Mbarara despite registering five confirmed cases of death among humans resulting from Rift Valley Fever, the Resident District Commissioner, Emmy Turyabagyenyi Kateera has revealed.

According to Kateera , when they informed the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries about the outbreak, they deployed a team on the ground to manage the situation. Mbarara District Veterinary Officer, Andrew Bakashaba, says that registered fifty cows infected by Rift Valley Fever in Rwanyamahembe Sub County on different farms.

He, however, says that they are currently managing the situation through sensitization. Bakashaba has warned residents against eating meat from animals that have died on their own, noting that Rift Valley Fever is only transmitted from animals to humans through infected meat.

He has also asked people to always watch out for meat that has a veterinary medical stamp as proof that it’s been tested and found to be clean. Turyabagyenyi said that they have directed extension workers to hold engagement and sensitization meetings with farmers and livestock traders on how to do self-preservation on their farms and the movement of animals.

PHOTO: The Jenner Institute

He said they asked the Ministry of Agriculture to hold on imposing a quarantine as they monitor the situation on the ground noting that if the situation goes out of hand they would be left without any choice but to announce the quarantine.

He says they have deployed veterinary doctors at all known slaughter slabs and asked them to double-check the meat before and after it is delivered to butchers.  Dr. Richard Atuhairwe, the in-charge of Bwizibwera Health Centre IV, says that the disease was detected among 30 people, and results from Uganda Virus Research Institute returned positive.  He says that five of the thirty have since died.

Rift Valley Fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever that is most commonly seen in domesticated animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats and can also cause illness in people. It is caused by the Rift Valley Virus. Meanwhile, a Quarantine has been imposed on Byembogo Village in Nyabisirira Town Council after a case of foot and mouth disease was confirmed on one farm.

Turyabagyenyi says a farm belonging to one Mr. Mungonya with over 1500 cattle had been stopped from sending out cattle and animal products like milk from the farm. He says that they have also temporarily closed the Kyeshema livestock market that is shared between Kiruhura and Mbarara districts noting that Kiruhura had last week closed its side.

He says they are now moving to vaccinate all animals in the village as they monitor the situation.

Original Source: URN via  The independent

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