The government of Uganda has been asked to intensify coffee production in Northern Uganda as one way to reduce poverty levels in the region.
Experts at the Economic Policy Research Centre in Kampala think growing coffee will improve livelihoods.
“If coffee production is intensified in Northern region the area will attract investors in the coffee value chain. This will create employment, transport and labour in the factories,” Dr Sarah Ssenabulya the Executive Director of EPRC said.
In a recent study EPRC says this will drive economic development in the region which was badly affected by a 20-year war.
The findings of the study were presented during the Third National Forum on Agriculture and Food Security organised by EPRC.
Dr. Swaibu Mbowa, a Senior Research Fellow said, “Coffee growing in Northern Uganda has big multiple effects in fighting poverty at household level.
Where coffee is being grown the poverty level is declining, but in the non-coffee growing households the poverty level is still high, standing at 31.6%.”
He said growing coffee in, Northern Uganda has positive impacts on the house holds welfare especially on food security.
He said farmers in the surveyed districts of Gulu, Apac, Nwoya and Lira have three meals a day as recommended by the World Health Organization.
EPRC believes if coffee growing in Northern Ugandan is promoted, Uganda’s coffee exports on the international market will increase from the current volume which is not yielding enough financial resources compared to the past.
Uganda was performing better than Vietnam in the early 1970s in terms of coffee production but Vietnam has now surpassed Uganda to become the second largest producer.
According to the Gulu District Agriculture Officer Lakor Jackson, the region has problems over land conflicts, Climate Change, access to planting materials and a wide information gap about the coffee sector.
“Access to coffee seedlings and land conflicts in Northern Uganda is a challenge although some farmers insist on coffee farming as a viable option. The majority of the people have no land.
Government should come in and solve the issue of land conflicts in Northern Uganda if the households are to venture in coffee farming in the region,” he said.
Findings from the EPRC study shows that in both the two region in the Northern Uganda Acholi and Lango region there only 132 coffee Nursery beds but this is not enough to supply to the two regions in Northern Uganda thus the need for Ugandan coffee Development Authority (UCDA) to increase the number of coffee nursery units in the high potential coffee production districts in Northern Uganda.
Source : East African Business Week