Uganda: Yiga Ng’Okola’ – On Farm – Hands On – Practical Training: Remote Farmers Can Be Reached!
There are smart ways for physically delivering coffee specific extension to deep rural areas, reaching coffee farmers at a very reasonable cost. In Uganda, this has been well demonstrated in the recently-concluded GCP Collective Action Initiative ‘Towards Integrating Coffee Extension Services’ (TICS).
The initiative showed that strengthening the administrative and technical capacity of private Coffee Community Based Facilitators and Government Agricultural Officers to deliver a on farm and hands-on training package, greatly increases the coffee extension outreach to remote coffee farmers. The private sector and government are now being encouraged to pick up the results and lessons from the 3-year initiative and upscale the model to reach the over 1.5 million underserved coffee farmers in Uganda.
The initiative successfully piloted a public-private partnership between private Coffee Community-based Facilitators with the government’s district-based extension system. The facilitators provided coffee Good Agricultural Practice trainings to remote coffee farmers, with backstopping from district Agricultural Officers.
TICS showed that quick gains in coffee tree yields are possible by treating aged trees with simple and cheap practices, such as stumping, pruning, desuckering, weeding and mulching. By applying these rehabilitation and renovation measures to aged and overgrown coffee trees, traditional coffee farmers can double their yields, to around 600 grammes of FAQ (fair average quality) green beans per tree. If this would be achieved with 300,000 traditional farmers, coffee production in Uganda would double in 5 years to reach 9-10 million bags.
Popularly known as the Rubirizi District Coffee Queen, Ms. Adrine Natukunda (31) is one of the 30 trained Coffee Community-Based Facilitators (CBFs) in Uganda. After the training delivered by Café Africa Uganda, she upgraded her coffee farm, and became a facilitator for the TICS programme. Ms. Adrine has since been involved in training farmers on coffee, using the on-farm hands-on practical training approach, in Uganda known as ‘Yiga Ng’Okola’.
“My rehabilitated coffee garden serves as a community demo, and the hands-on practical training approach, use of local language during training and matching the trainings with the coffee calendar, has made me a popular facilitator in Rubirizi,” said Ms Natukunda.
The TICS programme continued to provide her advice through WhatsApp during the COVID lockdown, which opened her eyes for the wealth of good coffee information available on the internet. Adrin is now engaged by the Government of Uganda as a coffee service provider. Her district fame as a practical farmer/coffee advisor, earned her a contract with Great Lakes Coffee Company Ltd, as Coffee Farm Inspector, for Rubirizi District.
Results of the TICS initiative are promising, and they are being taken forward in a new GCP Collective Action Initiative in Uganda envisaged to start in July 2021: Ugandan Youth for Coffee – Development of Farmer Prosperity through Renovation & Rehabilitation. In this initiative, more young private coffee service providers will be trained to set up a business, and will be hired to carry out a basic renovation and rehabilitation treatment to 1.5 million coffee trees of 30,000 farmers. The results will be carefully monitored to establish the impact on productivity and farmer income, so as provide a model for a country-wide campaign.