Farmers in Ankole, Kigezi and Rwenzori sub-regions have been told to desist from selling immature coffee.
The warning was made by Fredrick Ngobi, the state minister of co-operatives, who was concerned that the practice will compromise the quality of coffee in the country if not stopped.
This was while addressing coffee farmers from Ankole, Kigezi and Rwenzori sub-regions at Ntungamo Industrial Coffee City recently.
Ngobi was on a working visit to coffee farmers in the region and said was making a follow-up on presidential directives to promote coffee quality and increased production.
The farmers who attended the meeting were from 150 co-operatives in the region.
The minister noted that the Government is aware that many farmers have abandoned harvesting ripe coffee and are lured into selling coffee on their plantations at the flowering stage.
“The buyers you sell your gardens to are careless about the coffee to be harvested. The harvested immature coffee ends up rotting and this puts the life of the consumer at risk because the product is hazardous,” he said.
The minister instructed leaders in the area and of co-operatives to sensitise farmers on the dangers of harvesting immature coffee.
“The problem is not only affecting us as a country, but it largely will compromise our products in the foreign markets,” Ngobi said.
Ntungamo district chairperson, Sam Mucunguzi, urged all local governments to put in place ordinances preventing farmers from selling immature coffee.
Farmers need support
The Ntungamo district Woman MP, Josyline Kamateneti, asked the Government to support coffee farmers with soft loans, as this would reduce tendencies of farmers harvesting immature crop.
Kamateneti said the economic hardship were pushing farmers to selling immature coffee and get quick money to address the challenges including paying fees for their children.
During the meeting, the farmers formed a coffee investment consortium which is focusing on producing quality coffee and marketing to premium markets for increased incomes for the coffee farmers.
Nelson Tugume, the managing director of Inspire Africa Coffee, was unanimously elected the consortium chairperson.
Tugume urged the Government to support the establishment of regional coffee industrial hubs which will help to increase the volume of export and quality in the country.
Strength in unions
Ngobi also challenged coffee farmers in the sub-regions to come together and form a strong union. He said coffee farmers have failed to develop because of division which is causing collisions.
“Coffee farmers are not developing because we are a danger to ourselves, I encourage you to come together and form a union,” Ngobi added.
He noted that there are 14 million co-operations in the country and if they all came together and contributed sh100m each to establish a bank, they would raise sh1.4 trillion.
Peter Munanura, the deputy director of business facilitation at Uganda Investment Authority, said they are committed to supporting coffee industrial hubs in Ntungamo and other parts of the country as it will help to increase production.