Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Coffee Development Authority-UCDA is encouraging youths to play an active role in the coffee value chain.
The authority started by training youth groups on understanding coffee legislation, coffee garden handling, crop management skills and harvest, post-harvest handling and storage, skills of a barista and managing coffee businesses in gardens and shops.
Dr Emmanuel Iyamulemye, the executive director of Uganda Coffee Development Authority-UCDA says they have enrolled youths from ages 15 to 30 in villages across the country. He however hastens to add that although the programme cuts across the country, the regions of central, western and Bugisu have embraced it more.
Iryamulemye is optimistic that the skills imparted in the youths will ease problems of poor coffee handling and harvesting. The training comes after Uganda registered a decline in coffee exports from 4.45 million 60 kilogram bags in financial year 2017/2018 to 4.17 million 60-kilogram bags in financial year 2018/2019.
With a target of reaching five million youths in 2020, the programme has so far enrolled more than three million youths.
Dr Iyamulemye says the challenge now is achieving the 20 million (60 kilogram bags) target set by the Uganda coffee roadmap by 2025. The Ugroadmap lists nine initiatives for improving coffee production in Uganda. It summarily looks at crop growing, training farmers, youths, market enterprising, storage and the promotion of coffee consumption in Uganda.
“This calls for coffee farmers to improve in coffee harvesting, drying and storage in order to have enough quality beans for export.” Dr Iyamulemye.
Robert Tumusiime, a coffee farmer in Mukono says many youths have benefited from the UCDA led initiatives to improve coffee production in the central region of Buganda, but needed farm inputs, quality coffee seed, increase in acreage of coffee farms, pest and herbicides in addition to training.
23-year-old Susan Namuwonge, acCoffee barista trainee in Nakifuma, Mukono district says that the training will help many youths to earn income through the barista skills acquired. Uganda ranks eighth among the top coffee exporters in the world. The leaders, Brazil posted 55 million 60 kilogram bags in financial year 2018/2019.