Researchers at the National Forestry Resources Research Institute (NaFORRI) have embarked on studies to find out if grevaria tree, that most farmers have planted in the coffee gardens, harbours coffee pests and diseases. Another tree under investigation is the musizi for the same reasons.
The two tree species are some of agro forestry trees that coffee farmers have been planting in their coffee gardens to provide shade for coffee.
This was revealed by Ben Fungo, the head of agro forestry at NaFORRI.
His revelation follows complaints from coffee farmers that have planted the two species in the gardens that they harbour pests and diseases.
Coffee is the country’s major foreign income earners.
Uganda’s Coffee exports in June 2021 amounted to 618,388 sixty-kilo bags worth $58.56m million, to Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA).
UCDA said this comprised 565,449 bags of robusta valued at $50.25m and 52,939 bags of Arabica valued at $8.31m.
Other challenges in coffee
Apart from trees harbouring pests, some farmers especially from Toro, Buganda, Busoga, Bugisu and Sebei sub-regions, had already complained of strange coffee diseases, which researchers from National Coffee Research Organisation and Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) has since established to be coffee berry disease (CBD) and coffee leaf rust (CLR) in Arabica coffee growing areas of Sebei district. The black coffee twig borer (BCTB) was the major pest in robusta coffee in Iganga and Namutumba districts.
Advisory from agriculture ministry
In the meantime, the agriculture ministry is calling on farmers to integrate three ways of controlling the black coffee twig borer, which include cultural, chemical and physical control measures.
These include cutting, chopping and burning affected plant parts, as well as planting coffee shade trees recommended by the ministry to prevent alternative host trees of the black coffee twig borer.
Farmers are encouraged to plant pest-free planting materials from UCDA and do regular inspection of coffee fields to look out for any signd of pests and diseases.