The future of our brews, and the livelihoods of those who produce it, face increasing threats from climate change, diseases and low yields. If we want the industry and the people that work in it to prosper, we need to look closely at how tea and coffee is produced and find farming techniques, and plants, that will survive and thrive in years to come.
Based on my field observations in the different regions of the country, coffee farmers are highly constrained with unpredictable prolonged dry seasons and shorter rainy seasons requiring expensive measures such as mulching and irrigation, making coffee farming a capital intensive venture. This is accompanied with perseverance of diseases such as coffee leaf rust that occur in farmer fields mainly in the dry season leading to great losses/reduction in coffee yields.
A research-based approach
Over time, World Coffee Research’s (WCR) work in Uganda has brought tools and approaches to accelerate progress in coﬀee agricultural research and mitigate the effects of climate change. For example, we have the, nursery development program which is aimed at building the capacity of nurseries to produce adequate volumes of genetically pure and healthy seedlings to farmers. WCR has also established the international multi-location variety trails to see how varieties respond to diﬀerent soil and climatic conditions – including extreme environments with long dry periods, which mimic the changing climate coﬀee.