Coffee growers in Kyenjojo district are struggling to earn from the business due to pests and diseases that attack the crop. The farmers say the most common type of disease is the coffee berry disease which attacks the plants until they dry up and the berries fall off before maturing. Patrick Baguma, a coffee grower in Kyenjojo town council says that this particular disease has repeatedly attacked his 2 acres of coffee leading to huge loses. He says its fungicides cost between 100,000 and 120,000 shillings and to him, this is unaffordable for him.
He wants the government to intervene and at least provide the fungicides and ways on how the disease can be avoided or controlled. Steven Kaahwa, the chairperson Mwenge Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Society adds that other than the berry disease, they are also facing the coffee wilt disease which unfortunately has no to cure. Kaahwa says that once the plant is infected, it has to be cut down, and the problem worsens during dry seasons.
Formed in 2018, the Cooperative is aimed at bringing together coffee growers in Kyenjojo district so that they can do collective marketing, storing and processing. So far, 100 have joined, but Kaahwa discloses that the other major challenge they are facing is the lack of a processing factory which has seen them spend a lot of money on coffee hauling.
He says hauling a kilogram of coffee costs 100 shillings yet the price of the processed coffee has also dropped from 6,000 Shillings to 3500 per kilogram. To Kaahwa, the government can help the coffee growers in the district to find the market and even construct for them warehouses where their products can be stored for a longer period.
Edson Sumbira, the Kyenjojo district agricultural officer says they are aware of the problems the farmers are facing and some are going to be solved. For instance, he says that on the issue of prices of fungicides, the government is trying to implement an initiative where farmers can contribute 33 per ent of the cost and government tops up for them.
On coffee haulers, he says they are planning to construct one for the cooperative in Kyenjojo town council under the Rwenzori Agri-LED initiative. The 700 billion shillings initiative aims at transforming local governments to eradicate poverty and ensure sustainable wealth creation by paying attention to the needs of individual districts of Rwenzori sub-region.