There is cause for worry in Uganda’s Coffee Industry, after Coffee Rust Disease was declared an emergency in some coffee growing countries of South America.
Guatemala declared a state of agricultural emergency after a coffee tree fungus blighted about 70% of the national crop.
Guatemala’s government has already released 13.7 million dollars in emergency aid to help small farmers buy pesticides to fight the fungus.
Honduras and Costa Rica have already declared national emergencies. El Salvador and Panama are also affected.
However Brazil, one of the biggest coffee producing countries is not listed as under threat from the coffee rust disease.
The disease which mostly affects Arabica coffee causes trees to lose their leaves, resulting in fewer beans, of inferior quality.
Uganda suffered the last coffee rust disease in 2010, especially in Mt. Elgon and Rwenzori regions.
Edward Lutakome, Principal Development officer at the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), attributes the disease to global warming and fluctuations in temperatures.
Guatemala, says the outbreak is blamed on climate change, with effects including a two-degree rise in temperature, higher rainfall and an increase in humidity.
Dick Robert Wadaba Executive Director of the Africa Coffee Academy says a shortage in production in South American states may mean a boom in coffee sales in the Africa and Asia.
However, he notes that the disease could easily spread and thus reasons worry for the coffee sector.
Agronomist are advising farmers to adopt sustainable farming methods by moving away from subsistence farming to business oriented farming ,in order to take advantage of price fluctuations on the world coffee market.
Remedies include irrigation schemes for coffee, planting trees to shade the coffee and spraying the crop