Uganda grows two main varieties of coffee Robusta and Arabica. Robusta is an indigenous plant in Uganda and Arabica which mainly grows in highland areas was introduced in 1912 as a cash crop and is a native plant from Central Ethiopia.
The variety of wild Robusta coffee still growing today in Uganda’s rain forests are thought to be some of the rarest examples of naturally occurring Coffee trees anywhere in the world. The wild plants of this variety were found near to the Lake Victoria in 1860.
The Coffee trees are intercropped with traditional food crops and grown in the shade of banana trees and other shade trees. In these self-sustaining conditions, Coffee is left to grow naturally, flowering on average twice a year.
Production of Coffee
The Coffee Industry is based almost entirely on small holder production. Robusta accounts for 94 percent of the output and Arabica six percent. Most coffee is grown in the central region. Robusta is mainly a surface rooting plant and therefore does not flourish on soils, which dry out rapidly, such as sandy, or gravely soils but does well on loams and clays soils. Arabica is grown around Mount Elgon in the East, the mountain ranges in west-Nile and Mount Rwenzori in southwest Uganda.
Main Coffee Growing Areas
The main Coffee growing areas in Uganda include the following:
- Mount Elgon area Districts in the East
- Highland areas of Nebbi District in the North
- Mountainous areas of Kisoro and Rukungiri Districts in South West
- Lake Victoria regions in the Central Districts
Importance of Coffee in Uganda
- Coffee has traditionally been a very important cash crop to Uganda.
- Coffee chewing still retains some cultural significance.
- It is a source of employment for a number of people in Uganda
- Coffee has been the largest single earner in Uganda’s economy since the early 1970s and it ,
- Contributes over 70 percent of the National foreign exchange.
Factors affecting coffee production in Uganda
Coffee production has been affected by the following factors:
- Management capacity
- Low quality standards
- Funding to promote coffee re-planting,
- Low productivity levels as a result of coffee wilt disease,
- Volatile world coffee prices.
- Low domestic coffee consumption levels
- Lack of capacity to enter the roasters market
The following are the main two types of primary processing of Coffee in Uganda:
- Wet processing which involves Cherry separation, Pulping, Washing and Drying
- Dry processing which involves harvesting and drying.
Uganda has about 250 registered Coffee hullers located all over the Country, they primarily process the Coffee by removing husks off the Coffee.