Central region

Will PDM money benefit small coffee producers in the central region?

Investments in coffee production in the central region are increasing, particularly following Buganda’s popularized scheme, the ‘Emwanyi Terimba’ project, loosely translated as ‘if you plant coffee, you won’t regret it’.

The program has enabled more people, including young people, to establish coffee gardens and plant high yielding varieties of Robusta coffee.

Religious leaders have also offered large tracts of Church land for coffee cultivation, insisting that the investment is tied to a substantial supplement to their income.

Coffee is also the country’s main source of agricultural currency. It earned Uganda $718 million (about Shs 2.7 trillion) in 2021 from 6.7 million 60kg bags produced that year, according to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA). .

The Parish Development Model (PDM) is one of many interventions put in place by the government to increase household incomes and the well-being of poor Ugandans. So how will the coffee sector benefit from PDM?

Mr. Musisi Ssebatta, Chairman of Masaka Sub-Region Coffee Farmers, says, “I am not quite sure yet how PDM will help the coffee farmers. It was designed to help those who find it difficult to enter the cash economy. But how can Shs1m help a coffee farmer? »

Mr. Ssebatta adds that a coffee farmer has to be very patient because it takes between two and three years for the coffee tree to produce flowers after planting.

“The period between flowering and harvesting coffee cherries is equal to a woman’s pregnancy period. So, if poor, will the MEB allow farmers to take that long to repay loans? ” he asks.

However, another coffee farmer, Mr. Gava Kazibwe, who is also the security officer for Gombolola in Kisekka sub-county in Lwengo district, differs.

“The PDM will work with associations and groups of farmers. The groups will select the most deserving farmers to whom they will grant loans. Some of them will need money to buy inputs like fertilizer or spray pumps and pay after selling their coffee,” says Kazibwe.

“A person with young coffee trees can grow fast maturing crops like beans and groundnuts between coffee lines, harvest them and pay the PDM loan. Even those who are just starting to grow coffee can benefit from the funds from this project,” he adds.

Mr. Fred Nsamba, a coffee farmer from Mpugwe village, Mukungwe sub-county, Masaka district, blames PDM for forcing them to subscribe to groups carrying out the same agricultural activity.

“Some are coffee plant traders and some are coffee growers. But I seem to be the only one engaged in coffee beneficiation in this whole sub-county. I’m the only one making coffee powder and I need a motorized coffee grinder, but I will miss out because I have been told to belong to an association,” says Mr. Nsamba Mr. Charles Lwanga, a model coffee farmer, who is also the representative of Kabaka in Ngereko parish, Kisekka sub-county, Buddu county, thinks that the money invested in the PDM should be used to solve the problems that the farmers face, such as the establishment underground drilling projects or hydraulic dams.

“The PDM could easily pass like any other government intervention. They have all been handing out cash or providing free coffee plants and telling people to form groups, but the poverty persists,” he says.

According to Mr. Lwanga, it is difficult to lift everyone out of poverty because of their mindset.

For example, he says that some people in the villages start their day by going to drink joints instead of engaging in some fruitful activity.

“One of the main obstacles for coffee growers is the lack of water for irrigation. So I would expect the government to put more energy into providing farmers with water and infrastructure. Otherwise, giving or lending money to farmers will most likely be interpreted as political rewards and will never be repaid as has been the case in all previous interventions,” Mr. Lwanga said.

Hajj Sowedi Sserwadda, president of the Kibinge Coffee Farmers Cooperative Society in Bukomansimbi district, says, “We have our own savings and credit system. Our farmers can opt for such government interventions, but every member of our society has a savings account with us. Farmers can easily borrow and repay when we buy their coffee. They can get inputs such as cow dung as fertilizer, tarpaulins or borrow money for school fees. PDM will be just another financial credit option.

Through their cooperative societies, farmers usually contribute a considerable percentage of the graded green coffee that the government exports to other countries.

For example, the Kibinge Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Society in Bukomansimbi District contributed a total of 1,280 60 kg bags to the country’s overall coffee export of 2,289,880 bags, according to the Comparative Farmers’ Performance Report. UCDA 2020/2021 coffee exports.