NEBBI. Coffee is one of Uganda's most lucrative export yet West Nile region, which has the potential to grow the crop has remained among the lowest performing production areas in the country.
Mr Dick Wadada, the Alur highland coffee alliance project director attributed the problem to farmers' failure to rehabilitate coffee trees.
Speaking during a meeting organized at satellite hotel in Nebbi town on Monday, Wadada said if farmers were to rehabilitate their coffee trees by cutting down the old ones to all new stems to grow, the quality and quantity of coffee they produce would improve.
He noted that because farmers are stuck to the old practice, there are numerous cases of poor quality coffee yields in the region.
"West Nile has a huge potential to export coffee because the coffee produced from the region has a unique flavour and aroma which makes its market readily available outside the country," Wadada said.
"With the growing demand of coffee, there is compelling export opportunity for the farmers in the region if only they adopt good farming practices including rehabilitating the old coffee trees," Wadada added.
The Alur highlands coffee alliance is a five year project aimed at improving income and livelihood of coffee farmers in West Nile through establishing sustainable commercial relationship between partners and farmers.
But Wadada said even though the project is soon coming to an end, they have been able to train 16, 000 coffee farmers across the region with good agricultural practices that has increased yield volume and quality.
Mr Sam Kermundu, the senior extension worker at Uganda coffee development Authority (UCDA) said there is need to harmonise and unify extension coffee massages to avoid confusing farmers.
He observed that local consumption of coffee is still very low, a reason people are not realising the benefit of growing coffee.
Meanwhile Mr Richard Olobo, the Nebbi district commercial officer advised farmers to embrace good agricultural practices learnt in order to improve on the quality of the coffee they produce so as to compete in the world market.
He also encouraged the farmers to consider forming cooperatives which they will use to market their coffee and determin its price.
However, Mr Collins Anewa, a coffee farmer in Erussi Sub County said the biggest problem with coffee is the ever fluctuating price that has discouraged many farmers.
"If only we had a stable price, most people will be interested in growing coffee and with the good agricultural practices, the yield would obviously improve," Anewa said.