Current Research Interventions

Current NaCORI intervention areas in coffee research and development

  • Enhancement of availability and promotion of quality coffee planting materials.
  • Development and promotion of high-yielding coffee varieties with resistance to drought, pests and disease, and desirable market traits.
  • Development and promotion of technologies for managing the Coffee Wilt Disease (CWD), Black Coffee Twig Borer (BCTB), as well as other coffee pests and diseases.
  • Development of soil and moisture management options for addressing yield and quality in coffee.
  • Strengthening of collaborations and partnerships.
  • Development of human resource capacity and infrastructure.

Highlights of NaCORI’s technologies/innovations

Production of quality Robusta and Arabica seedlings

NaCORI is home to the 10 CWD-r varieties of Robusta coffee. The institute multiplies CWD-r cuttings and Arabica coffee seedlings. Most of these materials are availed to nursery operators for establishment of mother gardens. NaCORI has been supplying improved seedlings to farmers and nursery operators, and starter or parent stock of the 7 CWD-r clones to privately-owned tissue culture laboratories (Royal Cuttings Nurseries and Biocrops).

Each year, the institute supplies about 50,000 CWD-r cuttings to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) to avail to nursery operators. Arabica planting materials are also extended to beneficiaries through UCDA and the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) programme. NaCORI has provided starter materials to over 150 nursery operators in more than 40 Robusta coffee growing districts.

With funding from UCDA, the institute has built a biotechnology laboratory at Kituza, Mukono. Through this facility, the institute expects to enhance production of quality planting materials from about 100,000 to one million seedlings annually using tissue culture applications. This will gradually increase in the subsequent years to three million five hundred thousand (3.5 million) each year. In addition, the institute’s efforts are currently also geared to producing four hundred thousand (400,000) rooted cuttings per year using mother gardens.

Coffee Variety Development and Promotion

Coffee Wilt Disease (CWD) has been one of the main biotic stresses constraining coffee production in Uganda. It was responsible for the loss of almost half of Uganda’s Robusta coffee trees in the early 2000’s, leading to a loss of almost US$100 million at the time. In response to this outbreak, NaCORI developed and released seven (7) CWD Robusta coffee resistant varieties in 2009. These have been disseminated and commercialized. The 7 varieties are clones named Kituza-Robusta (KR) 1 to 7, with acronyms KRI, KR2, KR3, KR4, KR5, KR6 and KR7. Beside their resistance to CWD, the coffee varieties are also resistant to leaf rust, have good sensory tastes and large beans, which are desired by the market (according to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) grading system).

In July 2017, NaCORI unveiled three (3) more CWD-r varieties to sustain the increasing demand for Robusta coffee production in the country, and cater for the diverse ecological concerns in coffee-growing areas in the country. The three varieties are named NARO-Kituza Robusta (KR) 8 – 10: NKR8, NKR9 and NKR10. They produce better yields - mean yield of t 3,719kg of hulled coffee beans per hectare per annum. Other attributes of the new varieties are; resistance to CWD, leaf rust and red blister diseases, desired sensory tastes and relatively large bean sizes. On average, the three varieties yield 3.9 tonnes per hectare. They can be cultivated in all traditional Robusta coffee growing areas. Relatedly, evaluation of Arabica coffee cultivars for yield, resistance to diseases and market quality is ongoing at on-farm phase.

Disease management

In the recent years, research on coffee diseases has mainly concentrated on CWD. In addition to promotion of the CWD-resistant varieties, the institute developed a management package for CWD as a mitigation measure for the disease. The package emphasizes cultural methods – uprooting and burning infected coffee trees, avoiding moving infested plant materials and sterilizing tools by flaming after working on an infected plant. Further, a laboratory kit for quick detection of the pathogen in both planting materials and soil, based on two anti-biotics specific to CWD, has been developed and is ready for validation. This will enhance prevention and management of the disease. NaCORI is also currently screening new fungicides on the Ugandan market for managing the Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR) and Coffee Berry Disease (CBD) on Arabica coffee.

Pest (insect) management

As efforts to manage CWD were gaining ground through the release of the 7 CWD-r varieties, another biotic constraint, the Black Coffee Twig Borer (BCTB), emerged.  In 2016, studies showed that the pest had spread to all the Robusta coffee growing regions of Uganda, with an estimated national damage of 9.6% of the berry-bearing primary branches. The magnitude of damage translated into about US$45 million losses annually (Kagezi et al, 2015). NaCORI has developed and is promoting a BCTB management package based on cultural practices, combined with limited use of chemicals. A reduction in BCTB infestation of 34- and 18-units has been observed in Masaka and Rakai districts respectively over the last three (3) years and this is attributed to farmers’ adoption of this package. NaCORI has also developed and is promoting the trap code named; The Uganda Beetle Trap technology in addition to other cultural, biological and chemical control packages for managing BCTB. In addition to managing BCTB, NaCORI has developed packages for managing other insect pests of both Arabica and Robusta coffee.

Soil and moisture management

One of the major ways of improving soil and moisture management in coffee is through provision of shade systems. Additionally, shade systems also reduce incidences of some pests, diseases and weeds. They also improve quality and quantity, conserve biodiversity and provide product diversification. However, if not properly managed, trees can compete with coffee for moisture, nutrients and light. Also, some shade trees such as Albizia chinensis promote infestation of BCTB on coffee. Some tree species cannot withstand strong winds, therefore, unsuitable for regions such as northern Uganda. Thus, NaCORI developed site-specific shade systems for the diverse coffee agro-ecologies of Uganda, basing on farmers’ preference, abundance of the trees and existing scientific facts. Efforts are underway to disseminate these species in collaboration with other NARO zonal institutes and other institutions such as the National Forestry Authority. Additionally, the effect of shade trees in Arabica coffee farming systems is being quantified in Mt. Elgon region.

Promotional and technical backstopping activities

NaCORI has developed/packaged and promoted technologies in form of brochures of BCTB management, Robusta coffee disease management and Arabica coffee insect, pest management. Others are clonal nursery management, coffee post-harvest handling, coffee nursery management, Arabica coffee field management, Robusta coffee field management as well as coffee management seasonal calendars. Engagement of the youth through talks during agricultural shows and giving them reading materials designed in a friendly, easy-to-read manner, has been one of the avenues of promoting coffee production.


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