Uganda's coffee farmers have been advised to embrace research to achieve improved coffee yields and production as one of the goals to achieve the 20 million bags production target by the year 2020.

Speaking during a meeting organized by the Uganda Coffee Federation here Tuesday, coffee experts urged Ugandans to consider planting the right coffee verities for timely production.

"You need to grow coffee that will entice the coffee market. You also need to invest in research by working with world coffee producers," said Dr Timothy Schilling, the executive director of World Coffee Research.

He added that world coffee producing countries like Vietnam had been able to dominate the coffee market by investing in research which had boosted coffee production.

Farmers, especially those engaged in commercial coffee farming, were advised to introduce irrigation on their coffee holdings to deal with the unpredictable seasons.

"The reason countries like Vietnam, which started growing coffee just yesterday, have left us behind, is that we don't invest in irrigation and fertilizing our coffee farms. As a country, do you expect us to attain the 20 million coffee bags target without investing in our farms," asked William Wagoire, the director National Coffee Research Institute (NaCORI).

Wagoire also urged coffee farmers, especially those with old coffee plants, to consider pruning for better yields. "Some of your coffee plants are as old as ten years, and cannot give you good yields without you looking after them."

The country, which is the world's eighth biggest exporter of Robusta and Arabic coffee, has 1.5 million households engaged in coffee production. As part of the middle income status agenda, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) last year announced that Uganda would produce 20 million 60-kg bags of coffee by the year 2020, up from the current four million bags.

However, according to Betty Namwagala, the executive director of the Uganda Coffee Federation, the 20 million bags target can only be achieved if Ugandan coffee farmers interested themselves in modernised coffee farming.

"Through research, we can be able to deal with various diseases, which are attacking our coffee plants. As coffee producers, we have not been talking about research," Namwagala said.



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