In Uganda Coffee (Emwanyi as it is locally termed) is the leading foreign exchange earner. The coffee plant is mainly grown for its berries which are grinded to give a caffeine beverage.
Robusta and Arabica Coffee are mainly grown here in Uganda. Growing cloned Robusta coffee is a highly paying investment and it is now the crop for the young and elderly to resort to if they want good money quickly. Besides growing pretty fast it is high yielding and it has a large bean size.
The farmer should also ensure that the nursery bed from which he or she intends to get the plantlets from is well recommended by the area agricultural services extension officer; plant the right size of plantlets at the beginning of the rain season since initially they need good soil moisture to grow.
Tips for your coffee farming garden;
- Spacing: The spacing between Robusta plants is 10 feet by 10 feet and between Arabica ones is 8 feet by 8 feet.
- Dig right size holes – 2 feet long x 2 feet wide x 2 feet deep.
- While digging holes: heap the top soil on one side and bottom soil on another side.
- Add manure to the dug-out soil and return it into the holes.
- Mark the center of the holes and leave them for 2 – 3 months before planting.
- Obtain coffee plantlets from Certified Coffee Nurseries.
- During the planting season, plant very early in the morning or late in the evening.
- Remove the polythene pot cover before planting the seedling/cutting.
- Provide temporary shade to the newly planted coffee plantlets and water in case of water stress. Water conservation channels/bands are important in coffee.
- When the coffee plantlets have attained a height of about 11/2 foot or 6 – 9 months after planting, they should be trained (bent in an east to west direction i.e. sunrise to sunset direction) to initiate multiple branches from which the lowest and most healthy 2 are selected and maintained together with the original plantlet. This ensures higher yield and profitability per tree.
- The coffee garden should always be mulched and “weed free”
- Beans and bananas are good intercrops for coffee.
- Continuous de-suckering of the coffee plants should be practiced in order to prevent development of a micro climate that encourages pests such as Black Coffee Twig Borer (BCTB).
- At maturity, harvest only the red-ripe cherry and dry it immediately on tarpaulins, raised platforms or cemented floor to preserve its good quality.
How to earn from Coffee Farming
There are two coffee seasons in a year, a farmer can harvest about 8000kgs in a year taking average of four Kilos per tree. Taking Shs2,000 as the average price of Kiboko (unshelled coffee cherries), a farmer is able to earn a gross profit of Shs16m. Thus two acres which a serious commercial farmer can manage can make you Shs32m. This is for a farmer who cannot afford to add value to his coffee.
Make it a point for coffee to go through primary processing/hulling or removing of husks from dried cherries. This shelled clean coffee is referred to as FAQ (Fair Average Quality) and fetches higher prices compared to Kiboko. The more you add value to your coffee, the higher the returns.