Busia farmers have been encouraged to embrace diversified farming by embarking on Robusta coffee farming instead of overreliance on sugarcane and maize.
Most coffee farmers in the county lost hope back in 2000 due to poor infrastructure within and deplorable market prices caused by inflation of Uganda middlemen in the market for the product.
“Most parts of Busia possess climatic conditions favourable for Robusta coffee farming. The more popular Arabica beans are more sensitive, but Robusta beans are immune to significant impacts from a changing climate, new research suggests,” said Silas Manyasa, a coffee farmer at Nambale.
Busia has over 1500 coffee farmers with around 60, 000 coffee plants giving an average production capacity of 50tonnes annually. This is below the target of 3, 000 farmers of the plant in the county.
Western region Coffee Coordinator Leonard Murwayi has urged more farmers get into agribusiness especially of Robusta coffee giving the surety of support from the national government and Busia county government.
“The coffee market has been stabilized following the enactment of new regulations. Moreover, the market price of coffee is considerably high and, in Busia county, we have collection centres at Nambale, Samia, and Adungosi in Teso North,” he said.
The county government has supported coffee farming with Sh130, 000 from 2015. This has been in terms of seedlings and fertilizers to boost coffee production.
“The county has a budget to buy agrochemicals that will help curb pests that cause Coffee Berry Disease (CBD) and Cercospora leaf spot (Brown eye spot, Berry blotch) that are known to ruin coffee yields,” he said.
Farmers are now appealing to the government to invest more in the coffee farming in the county by setting up a small mill within the county. This will motivate more production as they will have certainty of the market for their produce.
According to farmers Silas Manyasa and Rosalinda Abiswa, coffee prices remained a big challenge. Currently 1 kg of coffee berries direct from the farm cost Sh35, whereas roasted berries cost Sh50.
By Absalom Namwalo