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Coffee Is Still A Great Investment

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Umar Nsubuga

Yekosefati Sekabembe’s success story about commercial farming will tempt everyone to return to the garden. 

A visit to the 49-year-old’s farm in Kiyunga, Naluwonga parish, Mubende district is incomplete without a taste of coffee. Coffee growing is the main enterprise at his Kiyunga-based farm.

His project sits on over 25 acres of land. To him, coffee is a wonderful crop. 

“It can stay for ages giving economic prosperity to the farmer. Our great grandfathers planted the bulk of the crop and their children inherited it but have added very little value on it,” he says.

He says many farmers have even failed to maintain the standard of crop hygiene, soil replenishment and preventing soil erosion.

Some of the farmers whose plantations have been destroyed by the wilt have given up growing coffee altogether, but this should not be the case.

“Farmers should clear their land and plant fresh coffee seedlings from the numerous nurseries all over the country. Our generation has a duty to contribute to the national coffee stock,” he Sekabembe.

Yekosefati Sekabembe holding coffee seedlings. Photos by Umar Nsubuga

Goeffrey Natigo another coffee farmer says several young farmers have complained that coffee takes a long time to mature but this is not true. 

In a matter of two years, well-tended coffee trees will start flowering and by the end of two years, the first harvest should be ready.

He says the other discouraging issue that has prevented serious investment in new coffee gardens is the low price that coffee is currently fetching.

Although the farm gate prices have remained low, at times this should not discourage establishing new gardens as the returns can be obtained from strategic planning from the beginning of the investment plan.

“Avoid establishing coffee as a single crop on your land. Intercrop it with matooke bananas at the recommended spacing. A distance of 10 feet between rows and coffee trees is sufficient spacing. Plant the bananas 10 feet apart between the equally spaced coffee trees”, Natigo advises.

The beauty of the bananas is that they will provide good trees. In order to give additional shade to both the bananas and coffee plants, establish shade trees but at wider spacing. A year after these two crops are fully established, you can establish vanilla vines at spacing as wide as 20ft between rows, he explains.

Vanilla being an essential shade crop will greatly benefit from the abundant shade provided by the coffee, bananas and trees.

With such diverse cultivation of crops on your land, Sekabembe says there is automatic insurance against unfavourable price fluctuations. The multiple harvests ensure that one crop supports the other throughout the year.

However, farmers who go in for this type of cropping have to bear in mind that there is a lot of time required to be devoted to physically being present in the field almost daily.

To be able to manage it well, farmers should start with a reasonably-sized garden and expand with time.

The coffee at the farm is processed either by natural dry process or washed wet process. 

Sekabembe says after picking the coffee cherries from the coffee trees, they are spread out under the sun on raised beds or patios.

Once the cherries are properly dry, the skin and dried fruit flesh are removed by a coffee huller machine and the green coffee is stored and “rested” before selling it.

Sometimes, the coffee is processed through a wash-wet process where the fruit flesh is removed with the coffee pulping machine before it is dried.

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