If you are interested in coffee especially that from Uganda, then you need to know about arabic coffee. Arabic coffee is one of the best coffee type in the world with the best aroma as compared with other types.
Fortunately, you just can’t face language barrier when referring to coffee in Uganda. Several local languages refer to it as ‘Kaawa’. The Baganda also refer to coffee beans as ‘e’mwanyi’.
In Uganda, Arabica coffee is planted in very few regions. This is because it only grows well in areas of higher altitudes and also the existence of diseases like CBD (Coffee Berry Disease) and leaf rust affect its growth.
These areas are mostly highlands for example the slopes of Mountain Elgon in Eastern Uganda, Mountain Rwenzori in Western Uganda, Mountain Muhavura in South Western Uganda and the Okoro highlands in West Nile.
Arabica coffee is solely planted in regions like Mbale, Manafwa, Bundibugyo, Nebbi, Pakwach, Ntoroko, Zombo, Kween and Kisoro.
However, in other regions like Arua, Kabarole, Ibanda, Kasese, Rukungiri, Kabale, Kanungu, Buhweju, Rubirizi, Rubanda and Kamwenge, both Arabica and Robusta coffee are grown.
Variaties of Arabica coffee most suitable for planting in Uganda
There are mainly six varieties of Arabica coffee in Uganda.
We have SL 14, SL 28, KP 423 and KP 162. Then the hybrid varieties include Ruiru II and Catimor 129.
SL 28 and KP 162 are highly susceptible to CBD and leaf rust therefore not recommended for planting. SL 14 is more susceptible to leaf rust than to CBD which is the vice versa of KP 423.
The hybrid varieties are resistant to both CBD and leaf rust. However, variety Catimor 129 has light bean seeds.
What are the conditions necessary for planting Arabica coffee in Uganda?
Arabica coffee in Uganda grows best in regions with altitudes between 1200 and 2500 meters. Such areas have cool temperatures between 15- 24°C which is favorable for Arabica coffee growing.
It requires fertile, well aerated and drained volcanic soils which are slightly acidic with a PH range of 5.5-6.5.
How to plant arabica coffee in uganda
Farmers can buy Arabica coffee seedlings at Kabango Coffee Germination Centre in Western Uganda as well as Uwepo Tree and Plant nursery in Jinja town at a price of 500 Ushs per seedling.
First of all, a farmer should clear the land and get rid of all the tree stumps and previous crop residues by deep ploughing.
In case of mono cropping, one should plant wind breakers or shade trees at a spacing of 20 x 40 m in a bid to control soil erosion and act as a shade for the seedlings.
After clearing the land, measure 2.4 meters apart and mark the points through out the garden. Dig circular holes of 60cm deep while separating the top soil from the sub soil.
Leave the holes to stay empty for 2-3 months.
Then mix the topsoil with a phosphate fertilizer and refill the hole forming a heap above ground level and leave it for a month.
Finally, you can plant your seedlings in the manure filled holes after 2 – 4 weeks at the onset of the rain season. Mulch the coffee seedlings to prevent loss of moisture.
Water the seedlings at least thrice a week and as the plant grows, less irrigation is required. Spray the plants regularly with pesticides.
When the coffee plants have grown to some extent, pruning becomes essential since overcrowding of branches lowers the yield of Arabica coffee.
How to harvest arabica coffee while in uganda
Arabica coffee matures faster than Robusta coffee. It takes about 7 to 9 months to hand pick the red ripe coffee cherries. Since it is a perennial crop, it can be harvested for longer periods.
Hand picking should be chosen over strip picking so as to harvest good quality of coffee.
A kilogram of unprocessed coffee beans also known as Kiboko is at a price of 2000-2200 Ushs.
The price of a kilogram of processed coffee beans also known as FAQ(Fair Average Quality) ranges from 4000 to 4200 Ushs and that of the Arabica parchment is between 4200 to 5000 Ushs.
The drugar (Dry Uganda Arabica) coffee which is of low quality due to strip picking has a price range of 4000 to 4500 Ushs.
All these can be purchased downtown, in Owino market, Nakasero and Nakawa market. You can also check in the coffee houses and retail coffee shops around Kampala.
However, Arabica coffee is mainly a cash crop therefore it is packed and exported to outside countries after being approved by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority.
Arabica coffee in Uganda is termed as the ‘Sweet aroma from the source of the Nile’. This is because of the tasty and sweet flavor of sugar and berries in Arabica coffee. So knowing about arabic coffee from Uganda surves you a margine of knowledge before you invest in it