KAMPALA – The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries has announced plans to establish small-scale irrigation systems for coffee farmers countrywide.
According to the ministry, climate change has continued to have an effect on agriculture, with many farmers experiencing damage to crops and facing food insecurity as a result of prolonged droughts and heavy rains associated with climatic variability.
Dr Janet Cox Achora, the communication and knowledge management specialist of the Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP), says the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries through ACDP sub-component 3.2: Agricultural water management investment is conducting studies for the development of small holder irrigation systems for coffee.
“Coffee growing in Uganda has largely remained traditional and conservative, and will greatly benefit from innovative technologies in irrigation,” Dr Achora says.
She adds that several studies also show that coffee productivity is severely affected by long-term water shortage, especially during the critical stages of flowering and fruit setting.
Due to the above challenges, she says ACDP will support smallholder farmers in the development of smallholder irrigation coffee systems to enhance coffee production.
According to Dr Achora, the objective of this support is to develop smallholder irrigation systems for coffee and to demonstrate the practices and benefits of irrigated coffee farming.
“This support will be available to some beneficiaries in the ACDP coffee supported districts,” she says.
Dr Achora says beneficiaries will be selected through a demand driven and competitive process.
“The selection will be based on responses to a call for Expression of Interest that will be advertised in the daily newspapers. The advert will also be posted to the various noticeboards of the respective districts and sub counties,” she says.
For a beneficiary to qualify, they should; already be implementing improved agricultural practices under the ACDP e-Voucher system, Should be a member of a coffee farmer organization and have a valid membership.
Dr Achora says Beneficiaries must also commit to demonstrating to other members of the farmer organization the practices and benefits of irrigated coffee farming.
According to Dr Achora, this intervention will lead to increased yield per acre per season.
“For example, Robusta can increase from 1,236 Kg/ha for rainfed coffee farming to 2,060Kg/ha for irrigated coffee farming,” she says.
Dr Achora adds that the intervention will lead to better quality of coffee, demonstration of irrigation practices and its benefits to other coffee farmer organization members, and subsequent adoption of the smallholder irrigation systems for coffee by other farmers.
Surveys indicate that coffee growing by households in Uganda is mainly carried out on small holder farms. In order to increase household income, there is need to increase the productivity of the small land holdings by adopting improved agricultural practices like irrigation.