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Mark 25 years of UCDA

UCDA Marks 25 years of Support to the Coffee Sub-Sector

From The Director’s Desk

I, on behalf of the National Coffee Research Institute (NaCORI) fraternity, salute the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) on this auspicious day when they have clocked 25 years of guiding and developing the coffee sub-sector in this country. The relationship between NaCORI and UCDA is not only constitutional, but has been boosted a lot by the cordial relationship between the management of both entities, as well as that of the UCDA Board. I, whole heartedly, appreciate this working relationship that I believe has contributed significantly to attainment of our mutual goals in the coffee industry.

The technological achievements that NaCORI has demonstrated include development of Coffee Wilt Resistant (CWD-r) varieties and accompanying recommendations for managing diseases such as the coffee wilt disease (CWD), coffee leaf rust (CLR), pests such the black coffee twig borer (BCTB) and mitigation measures for drought through use of recommended shade trees.  NaCORI further offers specialized training to farmers and other stakeholders in application of good agronomic practices (GAPs) for enhancement of productivity in the coffee sub-sector. These achievements have been as a result of well-established working relationships between UCDA and NaCORI demonstrated by participatory work-plan development, sharing of information and knowledge, among others.

It is notable that UCDA has been channelling substantial financial support to coffee research for the last decade having commenced in 2007.  To date, this support, in addition to tangible technologies such as the seven (7) CWD-r varieties, includes real-time infrastructure development as evidenced by the newly-operationalized bio-technology laboratory. This laboratory was constructed and is being equipped with financial support from UCDA. The laboratory is expected to facilitate enhanced availability of quality planting material produced using tissue culture applications.

Further, NaCORI with support from UCDA is fast-tracking the formulation of the National Coffee Research Agenda (NCRA). Overly, NaCORI targets to provide the required technological advances and innovations that will enhance production and productivity along the whole coffee value-chain. I, therefore, take this opportunity, as we celebrate the success of UCDA to-date, to appeal to all coffee stakeholders to support and facilitate the operationalization of the NCRA.  Long live UCDA and all the coffee fraternity.

For God and my Country!

William Wagoire Wamala

NaCORI – Who we are:

The National Coffee Research Institute (NaCORI) is one of the 16 Public Agricultural Research Institutes (PARIs) under the umbrella of the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO). NaCORI’s mandate is to conduct and manage basic and applied research of strategic nature and national importance in all fields pertaining to coffee and cocoa. NaCORI came into existence in 2014 after promulgation and in response to the National Coffee Policy 2013. The institute’s programmes and projects are aligned to NARO’s strategic objectives and the relevant contemporary national policies such as the National Coffee Policy, the Agricultural Sectoral Strategy Plan (ASSP) and Uganda’s Vision 2040, as well as the relevant regional and global initiatives such as the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

NaCORI’s programmes

The institute operates through three programmes, namely: -

  1. Coffee and Cocoa Variety Improvement and Management Programme (CViM-P). This programme aims at developing improved coffee and cocoa varieties accompanied with cost-effective agronomic practices, while collecting, conserving and using genetic resources using bio-technological tools.
  2. Coffee and Cocoa Plant Health Management Programme (CPhM-P) aims at managing and mitigating the harmful effects of pests, diseases, weeds and the changing climate, and ensuring proper plant nutrition of coffee and cocoa.
  3. Coffee and Cocoa Value-addition and Agribusiness Programme (CVA-P) that generates post-harvest and value-addition technologies, information and knowledge that will enhance profitability of coffee and cocoa as well as scaling uptake and use of coffee and cocoa research outputs.

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 coffee technologies/innovations

NaCORI’s efforts with support, particularly from UCDA, have resulted into among others the following technological and innovation applications:-

Enhancement of availability and promotion of quality coffee planting materials

NaCORI and UCDA’s top agenda is the production of quality planting materials as starter materials for the nursery operators. The newly-constructed bio-technology laboratory (Figure 1) is expected to produce at least one (1) million coffee plantlets in the first year and this will gradually increase in the subsequent years to three million five hundred thousand (3.5 million) per annum. In addition, the institute’s efforts are currently also geared to producing four hundred thousand (400,000) rooted cuttings per year using mother gardens (Figure 2).  The NaCORI fraternity salutes UCDA management and the board for this tremendous support. NaCORI has provided starter materials to more than 150 nursery operators in more than 40 Robusta coffee growing districts. In 2016 alone, the institute availed a total of 56,830 Robusta CWD-r cuttings and 100,000 Arabica seedlings, 900kg of Arabica coffee seed through UCDA and the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) programme.

Figure 1:  The newly-constructed bio-technology laboratory at NaCORI in Kituza, Mukono. The lab was built with support from UCDA

 

Figure 2: A mother garden for production of quality cuttings of CWD-r varieties at Kituza, Mukono

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 death 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, the institute developed and released seven (7) CWD Robusta coffee resistant varieties in 2009. These have been disseminated and commercialized. Efforts to develop more CWD-resistant varieties continue. Currently, four new varieties, 3/15/1, 245/21/5, 2/22/2 and EU 11 with superior average yields of 5.2, 4.1, 3.5 and 3.2 t ha-1 respectively, have been recommended for release and commercialization and are to be presented to the National Variety Release Committee at an appropriate time.  Similarly, 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 toots 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 Uganda Beetle Trap (Figure 3) technology in addition to other cultural, biological and chemical control packages for managing BCTB.

Figure 3: A researcher checking the "Uganda BCTB Trap" for adult beetles

 

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 (Figure 4), 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 (NFA).  Additionally, the effect of shade trees in Arabica coffee farming systems is being quantified in Mt. Elgon region.

Figure 4: A map showing site-specific shade tree species for the diverse agro-ecologies of Uganda

Enhancing coffee promotional and technical backstopping activities

UCDA has supported the institute to participate in international, regional and local scientific conferences and meetings, as well as local agricultural and coffee shows. 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, seedling 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 (Figure 5) and giving them reading materials designed in a friendly, easy-to-read manner, has been one of the avenues of promoting coffee production.

Figure 5:  Interesting the youth in coffee production

Strengthening of collaborations and partnerships

NaCORI collaborates and has formed partnerships with several national public and private organizations in the coffee sector, including sister institutes in NARO, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE), Uganda Coffee Federation (UCF). Others are the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), UgaCof and Makerere University Kampala (MAK). The institute also collaborates with International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe).

Figure 6: Engaging with other Government agencies.  The OWC team led by Maj. Gen. Oketa (RIP) third left during a past visit to NaCORI. Second-left is Mr. F. Chesang from UCDA, NaCORI director, Dr. William Wagoire (wearing red tie) and institute staff.

Challenges

NaCORI experiences a number of challenges that are limiting its ability to meet stakeholders’ expectations and these include among others: -

  • Limited capacity in terms of human and infrastructure to mitigate emerging/resurging issues such as climate variability, pests and diseases, among others.
  • Low adoption (in-take) of technologies by farmers.
  • Competition with other enterprises such as sugarcane growing in Busoga region.
  • Lack of facilities for demonstrating to the stakeholders the advantages owing to technologies such as irrigation.

Future activities

NaCORI continues to conduct and manage basic and applied research of strategic nature and national importance in all fields pertaining to coffee. These activities will build on the outputs mentioned above.

 
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