Coffee exports from Uganda are expected to increase in the coming years as more farmers in Northern Uganda start embracing commercial coffee farming in order to fight poverty at community level.
The latest farmers to join the growing of coffee on large scale are the Ajee community from Amuru Sub country in Amuru District Northern Uganda. The community is working with Private investor Eden Forest Company which is giving them logistic support to enable them venture into commercial coffee growing.
According to Stephen Michael Inyanga, the Coordinator of Ajee Community Development Group, which is made off 110 members, they intend to plant about 10,000 acres of clonal Robusta coffee plantation on 15,000 acres of land the group owns. Inyang said the association will be planting in phases.
Talking to a group of officers from the Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development who were on study tour alongside with other officials from Eastern And Southern Africa Small holder farmers forum (ESAFF) Uganda Chapter on the February 9 in Amuru Northern Uganda, Inyang said: “Currently, we have planted 52 acres of coffee plantation as a demonstration farm and we shall be adding more acreage of plantation in the next subsequent years until we reach at 6,000 acres of coffee plantation in a period of two years; then we shall continue adding until our target of 10,000 acres of coffee. As a group, we expect that in the next 18 months we shall be harvesting our coffee.”
Promoting investments in rural areas
The tour was aimed at assessing the impact of the principles on Large Scale Land Based Investment in Africa (LSLBI) tool, a tool which was developed by Oxfam to guide investors and the local communities on how the two can work together in promoting investments in the rural areas without having conflicts on resources such as land.
Oxfam Uganda and ESAFF Uganda chapter are piloting the tool in two districts of Amuru in Acholi sub region and Amurai inTeso region. The two organizations have trained the local people on how to use the tool to ensure that both investors and local communities have win-win situation on the projects Investors intends to put up.
Inyang told the officials that the tool introduced to the community by Oxfam and being piloted by ESAFF Uganda, has helped them in selecting the enterprises which the investors should introduce to the community.
Apart from selecting the enterprises, the tool model has also helped the members to come up with the terms and conditions for the two sides if the investments projects are to progress.
“The group selected various enterprises which are considered to be viable in the areas but the most one being commercial coffee farming alongside others such as maize and rice growing, among other enterprises,” he said.
Through working with the investor, the two parties will establish a coffee processing plant where the locally produced coffee will be processed before it is sold off on local market or exported. He said the intention of establishing the plant is to create more jobs to the youths and also transfer of technology into the district.
When asked whether the projects will not experience challenges other projects have been experiencing in the District, Inyang told East African Business Week that under the arrangement, the investor has helped the local people to secure land titles from the government. This will guarantee land security which is key when it comes to bargaining rates under which their lands will be leased to the Investor.
Once the coffee plantations are mature, the two sides will agree on the revenue sharing because the local communities are providing land as capital and the investor is meeting production cost among other terms and conditions.
Promoting dialogue between investors and communities
Commenting on the tool (Large Scale Land Based Investment) ESAFF Uganda Chapter chairperson Hakim Baliraine said the tool, once adopted by the government it will promote dialogue, awareness and consensus on large scale land based investments
“The reason why some investment projects in some parts of the country are not being received by the local communities is because of poor dialogue between the investor and the local community. Our government has not developed strong investment guidelines that favour the interest of the community and those of the Investors. In some African countries, the tools has been applied and there is harmony between the two sides,” he said
Large Scale Land Based Investment approach has been implemented in some West African countries such as Ghana.
Speaking about the tool, an officer from the Ministry of Lands who spoke to EABW on conditions of anonymity said they are going to brief the technical people at the Ministry to ensure that government adopt the tool since it has the potential to reduces conflicts between investors and the local communities.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO