Recently members of Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) were included in the activities of National Agricultural Aisory Services (Naads) with a view to “create wealth” via increasing agricultural production.
We have seen them actively involved in things like distributing seeds to smallholder farmers, and they seem to be doing very good work. They have done a particularly good job with coffee seedlings. Coffee being a major cash crop deserves special attention and emphasis.
However, by working closely with experts from ministry of Agriculture, Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) and police, the soldiers’ participation could make our coffee more marketable.
The quality of Ugandan coffee has been criticised, which has helped to keep price and demand low. For donkey’s years, our farmers have been told to not to dry coffee on bare ground and to pick only the ripe coffee berries.
Yet nearly everywhere, especially in Masaka region, one of the leading coffee producers, the farmers continue to dry coffee on bare ground and pick even the green coffee berries from the tree.
We are told that when the colonial masters initiated the production of coffee as a cash crop, in the last century, many farmers had to be “caned” to observe some of the regulations – hence the Luganda name, kiboko, for coffee.
They had to dry coffee on mats or anywhere else but not the ground. This practice has long been abandoned. Processing and marketing has been left to the private sector. Some individuals are ready to buy coffee from thieves who invade farmers’ gardens at night and pick green coffee, which they later dry in unhygienic conditions.
For fear of their coffee being harvested before it is ripe, some farmers have opted to pick it before it is ripe too. After all there are people ready to buy it.
Thus, the soldiers and police should be used to ensure hygiene, security and harmony in the production, post-harvesting, processing and marketing of the coffee crop.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor