Uganda and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to boost coffee production, following President Museveni’s signing of the coffee roadmap in Aril 2017 with a national target of reaching 20 million bags of coffee exported per year by 2025.
The MoU was signed recently in Vietnam by Uganda’s State Minister for Agriculture Christopher Kibanzanga and Mr. Le Quoc Doanh, the Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The Ministry has been seeking official collaboration with Vietnam which is known to have experienced an increase in coffee exports from less than 2 million bags in 1991 to the current 27.5 million bags per year, making the coffee subsector in that country worth US$3.2 billion.
According to the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, prioritisation by government has contributed to growth in both quantity and quality of coffee exported from the country, thereby creating more jobs and creating more wealth for our people.
Ssempijja says by 2014, coffee generated over US $410.1 million which is 31.7 per cent of the agricultural export revenues and maintained its position as the biggest agricultural export from Uganda with fish and fish products in second position, having generated over US $134.8 million which is 10.4 per cent of the total.
“Due this continued support and prioritisation of the sub-sector by Government through the Ministry and agencies led by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority, Coffee fetched over US $492 million in the last Financial Year alone. This represents a 19.9 per cent increase in value of exports between 2014 and now,” says the minister.
He says his ministry remains committed to the promotion of production of coffee in the country and forging strategic partnerships with nations that have exhibited exemplary progress in exporting coffee.
The signed MoU coverts covers 14 main areas in the categories of coffee production, animal health and Plant protection; exchange of technicians and researchers; study and elaboration of projects of technical assistance; exchange of scientific and technical information in the field of agricultural research conducted in the two countries; training involving courses, seminars, study tours and other necessary professional training; utilization of laboratory facilities involving the participation of private institutions in the area of livestock and plant protection; exchange of programs for the improvement of animal and plant production and soil fertility, storage and processing and market development and the promotion of international trade relations.
Other areas include; exchange of technicians and researchers, study and elaboration of projects of technical assistance, exchange of scientific and technical information in the field of agricultural research conducted in the two countries; training involving courses, seminars, study tours and other necessary professional training, utilization of laboratory facilities involving the participation of private institutions in the area of livestock and plant protection, exchange of programs for the improvement of animal and plant production and soil fertility, storage and processing and market development and the promotion of international trade relations.
Minister Ssempijja says the ministry is stepping up efforts towards promoting increased availability and access to water for agricultural production. “This is being undertaken through the newly-instituted Department of Agricultural Infrastructure, Mechanisation and Water for Agricultural Production. This Department is nearing completion of new irrigation models for coffee and the work done through the same Department will be supported by Senior Agricultural Engineers who are currently being recruited in every District,” he says.
The Ministry, he says, will also reinforce promotion of appropriate use of fertilisers to increase productivity of Coffee. From experience in economies that are performing better, application of fertilisers can double the productivity per tree of Coffee. “Fertiliser use in Uganda is currently estimated at about four kilograms per hectare, while in Vietnam it was reported to be about 1,200 kilograms per hectare,” he says.
More, he says, the ministry is stepping up sensitisation of farmers through the Agricultural Extension System that now covers more subcounties across the country. As earlier communicated. “The ministry has so far recruited 3,811 out of the initial target of 5000 extension workers across the country. The current extension worker to farming household ratio is about 1:1800. This is an improvement from the initial ratio of 1:5000 in the 2014/15 at the time of reform. The internationally accepted ratio is 1:500,” he says
Further, he says, the ministry has stepped up training and agricultural education through institutions like Bukalasa Agricultural College, the National Farmers Leadership Centre (NFLC) and District Agricultural Training and Information Centres.
The minister said encouraged farmers to work closely with the agricultural extension officers and to join registered farmer groups so as to benefit from bulk marketing, bulk selling and enhanced access to government services and projects. “This campaign for increasing coffee exports will continue through the above steps and more programmes being rolled out in partnership with the media and development partners,” he says.