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How can growing coffee improve the lives of Ugandan farmers?

The East African country of Uganda has long been a successful coffee growing location, with new research suggesting more farmers should add these beans to their crops, as this could lead to reduced poverty.

We at DR Wakefield are interested by anything that improves the wellbeing of our coffee farmers, so this sounds like a reasonable idea to us.

But what is Uganda’s coffee growing history? How is this possibility of improved wealth the case?

Uganda’s coffee history

The country has been producing both Arabica and Robusta beans for many years, but arguably one of the most important moments in its coffee-growing history was in more recent times, during the early 1990s.

Uganda is considered a leader in the liberalisation of global coffee production. This is because the industry used to be controlled by the state, but was one of the first places to break away from this, becoming fully independent between 1991 and 1992. Today, the Ugandan coffee sector is privately owned.

This may be the case, but according to a new report, the more northern parts of Uganda need help to bring themselves out of the depths of poverty and into the 21st century, which could possibly be achieved through growing more coffee.

The research

A report published by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) last month shows that coffee-growing families in the north of Uganda could greatly improve their poverty levels compared to other types of farming households.

The research suggests that, to help themselves to move out from the depths of poverty, farmers need to plant 467 coffee plants per acre of land, with each harvesting three kilograms worth of beans each season.

It was found that 89 per cent of coffee-growing households could afford to eat three meals each day, with the figure for other types of farmers being significantly lower at 39 per cent.

In light of this, senior research fellow at the EPRC Swaibu Mbowa is urging more families in the north of the country to take up coffee growing, as these successful results were recorded for those based in the central, eastern and western regions of Uganda.

Particularly, Mr Mbowa stated younger people should consider growing such crops, as they are the future of coffee farming in the country, but also the age group with the highest levels of unemployment.

Additionally, the local Ministry of Agriculture regards coffee growers as having a higher employment potential than other farmers, as the crop is the second most-traded item in the world, behind oil.

DR Wakefield and Uganda

Here at Dr Wakefield, we source both Arabica and Robusta beans from Uganda to sell to our expert coffee roasters and we ensure that a significant proportion of these have been organically produced.

We work closely with exporters and producer groups in the country to ensure our coffee growers get the right price for their beans.

Therefore, we feel passionately about any measures that may help them, such as changing more of their farm’s crops to coffee plants, as this research suggests.