From the Field, News

Monday, December 5, 2022

Uganda Harvest Update 2022

Our sister company in Uganda, Sucafina Uganda (Ugacof), is on the ground monitoring both the Arabica and Robusta harvests. To get the latest, we checked in with two Sucafina Uganda employees: Thomas Pitault, Supply Chain Coordinator, and Raymond Muhwezi Mugisha, Junior Data Analyst.

Sucafina is one of the first coffee companies working with farmers to increase coffee quality in Western Uganda. The region has been previously overlooked as a high-quality coffee-producing area, but Sucafina Uganda’s newly built washing stations are aiming to change that. “Western Uganda has the climate, soil and altitude needed to produce excellent coffees,” Thomas says. “Our new washing stations, combined with farmer outreach and training, are the key to maximizing the potential of this region.” Currently, Sucafina Uganda has 4 washing stations that are running and 2 more under construction. These new stations are expected to be operational by April 2023.

Arabica Harvest

Overall, Western Uganda’s Arabica harvest is completed, Thomas tells us. And it was a good year. “In 2021/2022 harvest, a little over 989,060 bags were exported,” Thomas says. “That’s about 287,000 bags more than 2020/2021.” This news is especially welcome considering the drought that Uganda experienced earlier this year.

“Coffee trees were able to bounce back from the drought and Western Uganda just experienced a good flowering, indicating there will be  slightly larger harvest next year,” Thomas says. The upcoming season will range from February to May of 2023, with the expected peak in late March.

Currently, the weather is looking favorable, but Thomas cautions, January and February are typically the hottest and driest months. Given the trend towards even hotter and drier temperatures we’ve seen globally with climate change, it’s not time to declare success just yet. “Coffee trees are stressed by weather that’s too hot and dry and can produce cherry that’s less dense or flavorful,” he explains. “The outcome of next year’s harvest will remain uncertain until we see what the weather has in store for us.”

Robusta Harvest

The Robusta crop is varied across regions this year, Raymond says. Greater Masaka area is expecting smaller yields than last year due to severe drought and unreliable rain patterns. Conducive weather conditions in June, July and August in Busoga and Central East regions mean they’re expecting high coffee yields for the main crop of 2022/2023. The Southwest region is also projecting a large crop for the season.

In some regions, drought and irregular rain patterns in July and August have affected coffee development and will directly impact the size of the crop, Raymond says. “This is most intense in Greater Masaka and Central West regions.”

Sucafina in Uganda

Sucafina Uganda increases the prices paid to farmers by establishing collection centers near farms, providing transport to the washing stations and paying a premium of 15-20% for cherry.  Currently, there are two new washing stations that are under construction. They are part of Sucafina Uganda’s project of putting processing infrastructure closer to farmers in order to better serve them while also improving coffee quality in Western Uganda.

Mitigating climate change’s impact on coffee production and farmers is the cornerstone of Sucafina Uganda’s actions in Uganda. We distribute coffee seeds to farmers around our coffee washing stations to increase tree planting density to combat lower yields due to climate change. We also actively participate in Good Agricultural Practices trainings in coffee farming communities. We are working on projects that will recycle coffee cherry pulp into organic fertilizers in order to share these fertilizers with farmers and boost yields in Western Uganda.