Coffee production provides a quarter of Uganda’s foreign exchange earnings and supports some 1.7 million smallholder farmers, but crop yields are being undermined by disease, pests and inadequate services from agricultural extension officers, as well as climatic changes in the East African country.
“Our coffee production per hectare has dropped due to early ripening of the fruit and diseases,” Maritza Cal[related_articles][related_articles] coffee farmer in the mountains in southern Costa Rica, told IPS.
Sitting in front of a pile of coffee beans that she has just picked, Ilsy Membreño separates the green cherries from the ripe red ones with a worried look on her face, lamenting the bad harvest on the farm where she works in western El Salvador and the low daily wages she is earning.
Uganda, Africa's biggest coffee exporter, is racing against time to boost its production of the crop by 60,000 tonnes, or one million 60-kilogramme bags, within the next three years. But some industry players believe that the feat is unattainable.