According to Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), it has become a trend for people globally to trace the origin of the products they consume.
This trend, Laura Walusimbi, the UCDA corporate communications manager, said, had led to the emergence of agro-tourism, which had since become an intriguing and enjoyable experience for many and one for which they were willing to pay.
“So, what farmers take for granted as an occupation, there is great potential to earn an extra income because the farm-to-cup coffee experience has proved to be popular,” she said.
Godfrey Dembe Kasozi of Karu Farm in Kasese plans to explore this concept further by leveraging the advantage his farm that neighbors Queen Elizabeth National Game Park has.
He intends to give his visitors more than a coffee experience by building lodges that will accommodate his visitors overnight or for a couple of days.
“When coffee is flowering, it’s wonderful to behold, and when there are monkeys around, the scene becomes even more exhilarating,” Dembe said.
Walusimbi said farmers would have the opportunity to sell tourists an experience of how coffee is produced — from the farm to the cup — all along the value chain.
She said today’s coffee consumers from non-coffee-producing countries were keen to trace the origin of the product they drink.
“Most of them only know the instant or roasted coffee (whole bean or ground) that comes in sealed vacuum packages with descriptions of the product’s aroma, taste, and texture. So, farmers may take coffee production for granted, but consumers regard it as an intriguing and enjoyable experience,” she added. Walusimbi said it would be a win-win situation for all involved.
“The tourists get a chance to visit a coffee-producing country to experience local coffee culture and tradition. And on the other hand, tourism offers farmers an alternative source of income and a chance to share a part of their life about which they are passionate,” she added.
She said a coffee farm could be modeled in such a way as to have natural walkways for bird watching, adding that showcasing the production of coffee — from bean to cup — was an income-generating avenue.
“However, stakeholders in the coffee subsector need to prepare themselves well for the opportunities in coffee tourism by acquiring knowledge of all the processes coffee goes through to reach the cup. They need to be able to teach coffee tourists how coffee is grown, harvested, stored, and processed. They also need to invest in processing facilities so that a tourist can witness how coffee is roasted and consumed on the farm,” Walusimbi said.
UCDA boss Emmanuel Iyamulemye said the Government had invested in producing high-quality branding materials to support farmers and farm organizations to gain from the theorized coffee tourism potential.
“We are also working with many partners such as the European Union to support the sub-sector through the provision of some matching grants to acquire processing equipment and promote our coffees abroad,” Iyamulemye said.