Farmers from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) stand to benefit from a US$26m training by a non-profit development firm, Techno Serve, aimed at increasing production of specialty coffee for export.
In western Uganda, the firm is targeting 30,000 growers under a four-year project funded by Germany-based Benckiser Stiftung Zukunft and Enveritas of New York to the tune of US$3 million, part of which will provide agronomy training to Robusta coffee farming families.
“Robusta coffee is an important cash crop for more than 1.3 million farmers across the country. With improved farming techniques, farmers can improve coffee yields by an average of 50 per cent,” said TechnoServe.
Similarly, TecnoServe is training 15,000 farmers in eastern DRC under a five-year project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the tune of US$23m.
In the DRC TechnoServe will train farmers on climate-smart techniques and also work with co-operatives to establish and improve processing facilities.
The firm’s chief executive William Warshauer said growing global demand for specialty coffee presents an opportunity for farmers in the highlands of South Kivu to earn higher prices for their crop.
“While meeting growing consumer demand for unique high-quality coffee, farmers can lift themselves out of poverty and provide better futures for their families,” he said.
USAID/DRC mission director Christophe Tocco said the new value chains will improve food security, give farmers and small businesses a viable legitimate income and support economic growth.
Starbucks with Swiss food company Nestle have already recruited farmers in Kenya, Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Rwanda and Uganda and trained them on sustainable business farming practices for specialty coffee, with the aim of increasing incomes through improved output.
US Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac recently led a trade mission to the Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle on April 20-21 jointly with the Uganda Coffee Development Authority and the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, joined by Ugandan Ambassador Mull Katende and more than 20 Ugandan coffee entrepreneurs.
The effort sought to boost the profile of Uganda’s coffee industry, which is Africa’s largest coffee exporter, but sends just three percent of its exports to the US.