The King of Toro, Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru, has applauded Dr Ian Clarke for having managed to establish the largest coffee farm in the kingdom.
Located in Kyarusozi sub-county, Kyenjojo district, the Clarke Farm sits on a 1,500-acre piece of land of which over 700 acres are used for coffee tree cultivation.
Other enterprises on the farm include agro-forestry which covers 500 acres, maize, vanilla and Irish potato. The farm was established seven years ago, its proprietor said.
Recently, King Oyo together with the kingdom ministers, including prime minister Steven Kiyingi, toured the farm.
Clarke spent over three hours driving his guests going around the farm in his off-road Jeep truck as they made stopovers at various points of the coffee farm.
“Thank you for establishing this beautiful farm in Toro and for having the best agronomic practices here,” Oyo said.
“It is very interesting that the cloned coffee grows faster than the original one. So expect me to come and buy some seedlings from you very soon” he told Clarke.
Oyo was also happy to learn that as a way of promoting agro-tourism, Clarke had also established a coffee lodge at the farm.
“It is very important that when tourists come to the tourism city of Uganda, they get to see things like this. Because you have ably managed to mix tourism with agriculture,” he said.
Oyo emphasised that agro-tourism is very important not just for international tourists, but the local ones as well to enable them to improve their farms for better output.
Clarke told Oyo that he was very happy and privileged to have his investment in Toro kingdom.
“I feel that coffee really has a great future, especially in this kingdom,” he said.
Clarke said both the soils and the climate in Toro favourably supported the growing of coffee.
He said his desire was to see local people, farmers and businessmen visiting the farm to learn about coffee farming.
“I want them to come here and see what can be done because many Ugandans have money and land. They now just need to put them two things together in an investment,” Clarke said.
“The king’s visit to the farm is very timely because if he came here seven years ago, he would probably have just found an overgrown bush. But now you see a piece of land that is managed,” he said.
Clarke said the advantage of producing coffee in Uganda is that its export prices are more stable.
“Coffee has relatively stable prices and has a global demand,” he said.
Steven Kiyingi, the Toro kingdom prime minister, told New Vision that their visit was enlightening on the advantages of planting cloned coffee.
“From today as a kingdom, we shall be able to produce pure disease-free coffee clones which can be distributed to the people of Toro. This will increase the volumes of coffee that will be exported from our area” he said.
Kiyingi encouraged all subjects of the king to embrace coffee farming as a business. “Coffee as a cash crop will help each household earn foreign exchange” he said.
Clarke has been able to also establish a coffee processing facility. “We grow coffee and we also have a factory here to be able to do value addition on our product,” he said. Clarke said the processing plant helps him to get a premium for his coffee. “Value addition is the way to go. By having coffee washed, it gives a very clean taste and the exports will give you a premium on that,” he said.
One of the major challenges that Clarke is facing as a coffee farmer is a change in climate, which he has attributed to global warming. He disclosed that in the last 10-12 years, the amount of rainfall received has continued to dwindle, something which he said affects coffee farming.
“Part of the farm is already under irrigation. This may have to be the way to go for the future,” he said.