By John Ricks Kayizzi
The National Coffee Research Institute (NACORI) has developed new high-yielding and disease-resistant Arabica coffee varieties that will bring Uganda closer to becoming the world’s biggest coffee exporter.
Occupying the top most position as Africa’s largest coffee exporter, the country recently relaunched an ambitious campaign to become the world’s third-largest exporter of coffee by 2030.
Uganda exported a record 6.08 million coffee bags in the financial year 2020-2021, the highest total for 12 months in 30 years. Exports for financial year 20/21 were also worth $559m compared to 5.11m bags worth $496m exported in financial year 2019/2020. The country has also launched an ambitious target to export at least 20 million bags of coffee annually by 2030.
A recent press release disclosed that the new Arabica varieties whose performance is above 200% compared to the old types, are also disease resistant.
“The new varieties are weather friendly, resistant to diseases such as leaf rust and coffee berry disease, in addition to possesing other positive attributes. They will reduce the burden on farmers in terms of purchasing chemicals to control diseases and pests,” reads part of the release.
Dr. Pascal Musooli, a senior coffee and cocoa researcher at NACORI, said the new varieties were developed with support from the European Union (EU) under the European Union – East African Community Market Access Upgrade Programme (EU-EAC MARKUP).
He said Uganda has been lagging behind in development of new coffee varieties due to budget restrictions.
“This is going to be a landmark for the farmers when it comes to their income. It will also greatly impact on the sector, and make it more profitable,” he said.
Dr Musooli said the grant particularly supported Ugandan scientists to carry out research and develop coffee and cocoa varieties to increase production and productivity.
“The research outcome, which clearly illustrates lessons and good practices, will be adopted by partner states to help unlock trade and investment opportunities in East African Community (EAC),” he said.
While research was already ongoing into development of new coffee varieties, the funds from MARKUP came at a critical time and made a big difference.
“The new varieties perform above 200% in comparison to the old types and once released to farmers, they will help increase productivity and help farmers double their income within a few years,” he said.
The grant enabled NaCORI researchers, under supervision of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) to carry out research in four locations which included Zeu in Zombo district, Kyenjojo, Kabale, and Buginyanya (Elgon region).
It also enabled them carry out preliminary evaluation of cocoa clones.
The mandate of NaCORI is to carry out research on coffee and cocoa in Uganda.