Growing Coffee in Mbale

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From my experience with the farmers in Mbale.  I have summed up growing coffee in Mbale into the following steps. Take in consideration this is just my view or understanding from what i saw. Actual coffee growing may need more information than this.

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1. The first requirement would be a piece of land . Preferably around or on the mount Elgon, where Arabica coffee thrives in Uganda. It can be several pieces of land since the possibility of getting on big piece is minimal.

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2.Planting coffee or maintaining existing trees(pruning, weeding,). Coffee is a perennial crop and So it would take you about four years before you can get a good harvest from the trees. On the other hand if you inherited tress on your piece of land, you could be able to get a good harvest during the harvesting period.

In preparation of planting coffee one would need to dig holes for the seedlings. In these holes, layers of soil and manure should be placed before putting the seedlings. Manure is usually got by digging compost pits where the farmers place organic waste from the homestead. Some farmer  have cows and mix the dung with the compost manure.

Maintaining old trees will require weeding around the plants, pruning, and maintaining the shade trees that help the coffee thrive . Some trees were planted in the  1950’s , 1960’s and 1970’s and are still producing berries.

3.All the above is done in preparation for the wet season. During the wet season  the farmer would mainly maintain the garden and other crops that he would have planted for home consumption like beans, vegetables, peanuts etc.

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4. When the harvesting period approaches, the farmer will gradually harvest depending on when the berries ripen.  For over a month , the farmer will keep taking off the red ripe berries .

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5. During the harvesting period several activities take place. After taking the red berries, the farmer will pulp them using a pulping machine which will give one berries and coffee husks .The berries are dried to a certain level of moisture. Most farmers use the sun to dry the coffee berries but some farmers with large harvest will take their produce to the Bugisu cooperative factory . Where it will be put in a machine to carry out the process from the pulping to the drying of the coffee.

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6. Coffee is then put in sacks which are weighed and transported to the bugisu cooperative union. Where the farmers sell their coffee to the cooperative. The coffee is tested for moisture and quality before being bought by the cooperative.

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7. Farmer is then paid for his coffee and will be eligible  to get a bonus if the coffee is sold abroad at a good profit.

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What i loved about this whole coffee growing process. Is the ability of farmers coming together to sell their coffee in bulk  through cooperatives . Which eliminates the middle man and makes the farmer able to sell their coffee at the price on the world market.

 

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