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How Robusta Coffee Is Slowly Turning Northern Uganda Into An Economic Magnate

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Patrick Kaboyo

In our just concluded familiarisation tour to Nwoya, Omoro and Lamwo districts as a natural resources sector audit committee, we were amazed at the effort coffee farmers in northern Uganda have put in to ensure coffee growing is sustained. 

Kudos to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority for a good job! 

Indeed, the Parish Development Model actors have lessons to pick in order to better their game! 

Upon interaction with different farmers, it was crystal clear that the socio-economic injustice and disconnection occasioned by the Joseph Kony war and the indifference created by the colonialists in northern Uganda are being cured. 

A number of coffee farmers have been supported by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority not only to grow coffee but also to plant albizzia trees, a specie that offers shed and protection to coffee plants.

Apart from coffee, farmers have expanded their acreage to grow other crops as well as fend for their households. Our experience with selected farmers in northern Uganda is that poverty in northern Uganda will soon be history. 

For instance, Richard Kidega of Pamenyai sub-county Nwoya district and Alfred Ojok, the chairman Lalar Coffee Farmers’ Group, have modernised farming of the elite Robusta coffee on an eight and 17-acre piece of land respectively. They also own a number of nursery beds for coffee seedlings. 

The officer in charge of Lotuturu Prisons, Ben Gilbert Openytho, has modernised Lotuturu Prison Coffee Farm through mixed farming and proper use of River Aringa’s waters.

The farm is slowly turning Lamwo district into a coffee-growing district in northern Uganda. 

Boasting a mixed farm of coffee, banana plantation and vegetables, the Aringa River that flows through the prison farm is an opportunity for sustainable agriculture. 

Increasing the budget for Uganda Coffee Development Authority to expand the farm from its current status to a demonstration farm for the entire northern region must be prioritised. 

In fact, funds allocated to the Parish Development Model programme in the agriculture component should urgently be rechannelled to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority.

If rechannelled, Uganda Coffee Development Authority will rigorously support the establishment and management of nursery beds for coffee seedlings. 

Based on the fact that planting seasons can never wait for the delays of the parish model bureaucracies, the growing of coffee in northern Uganda should be supported urgently. 

Further, through partnerships, the commissioner general of Uganda Prisons should scale up support for Louturu Prison Farm to become a demonstration farm for coffee and a food basket for surrounding schools.

Since the Lotuturu mountains stand at a height of about 1,500 above sea level, it is not only ideal for agriculture but a tourist attraction. 

It is said that King George II used to rest and take in the scenic landscape of Lamwo’s protruding hills and plains at Lotuturu while his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, was in southern Sudan. 

Again, a story is told by Lamwo folks that upon confirmation by Idi Amin that the place was scenic, serene and strategic and that it used to host the British monarch, he decided to make it his leisure command centre in 1973. 

To date, the hill still sits Amin’s concrete seats that have lasted 50 years. The three seats were for the three high-ranking officials including, the president, his wife and his chief bodyguard, Isaac Maliyamungu. 

A few metres from the three seats, lies a cave, Idi Amin’s VIP lounge. The lounge was a meeting venue for his special guests before he could stroll down to River Aringa for a dip. 

Lotuturu village is, therefore, a tourist attraction as well as a coffee hub because its cool temperature surely supports the growth of coffee and human settlement.

In conclusion, the presence of the great Aringa river flowing through the prison farm can be ideal for the generation of hydroelectric power for during the rainy season, waterfalls are visible. Lotuturu mountains in Potika sub-county should be supported by a motorable road to enable access to prisoners, produce and other people in the neighbourhood. 

The writer is the Chairman Natural Resources sector -Audit Committee GoU.

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