Kisoro, a coffee growing region with potential to produce some of the best Arabica in the country and enable farmers earn big from the lucrative coffee business still lags behind because of bottlenecks such as lack of processing equipment.
This is set to change as UCDA gave out four wet mills to coffee farming communities to support coffee processing, thus increasing the quality and volumes produced.
In March, UCDA Technical Extension Manager, Robert Tumwesigye oversaw the successful installation and operationalisation of a wet mill on Mr. Gerald Ngarama’s coffee farm in Murora sub-county, Kisoro district. The engine-driven wet mill has capacity to process 800kgs of red cherry per hour and will be accessed for free by other coffee farmers in the community.
Ngarama, is one of the recipients of the 35 wet mills procured by UCDA for distribution to coffee farmers across the country in a bid to improve coffee quality and promote production of specialty coffee which fetches a premium price.
Speaking at the launch, Tumwesigye noted that while access to the power grid remains a major challenge in rural areas, the engine-driven wet mill will ensure uninterrupted coffee processing.
Three other recipients of the wet mills are Festus Bahinyuza from Nyabwishenya sub-county, Winnie Bavuga from Nyakabande sub-county and Kenneth Barigye, Nyakabande sub-county.
Memory Akaijuka, the UCDA Regional Extension Officer for Kisoro says that coffee farmers in Kisoro have long struggled to process coffee to the right standard. This has often resulted in poorly processed coffee which fetches low prices on the market.
The installation of the wet mills will make it easy for farmers to pulp the coffee, store it in bulk as parchment and then, later, market it to buyers while maintaining its quality.
Kisoro Arabica coffee is grown on the slopes of Mt. Muhavura in south western Uganda. It has lively acidity, creamy mouthfeel and a sweet flavour with pleasantly lingering aftertaste.
In Kisoro district, about 80,000 farmers are involved in coffee growing with an estimated 4.3 million coffee trees planted mainly in the sub-counties of Nyabwishenya, Nyundo, Nyakabande, Busanza, Murora, Kirundo and Kisoro.
UCDA and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries last year commenced on a program to scale up wet processing to produce commercial volumes in Arabica and Robusta growing areas to attract premium prices.