Thank you for attending or showing interest in our webinar Building Climate Resilience in the Ugandan Coffee Sectorwhich took place on Tuesday October 27th 2020. This was an opportunity to share our learnings from the Feed the Future Alliance for Resilient Coffee (ARC) project in Uganda. The four-year project (October 2016 – September 2020) was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by seven leading international organizations.

We had a total of 49 participants from 10 different countries around the globe representing various organizations, private companies, NGOs, government, and development agencies in attendance. In case you missed out, visit the below link to access the webinar recording and additional information and resources you might find useful below.

View the webinar recording!

Access the coffee&climate toolbox!

Watch the above video to learn more about the ARC project results in Uganda.

Watch the above video to learn more about the ARC project activities in Uganda.

Download a guide for implementing the c&c approach in response to climate change at farm-level.

Watch the above video to learn more about how climate change is impacting coffee farmers in Uganda.

Read a blogpost about how the ARC project integrated gender into it’s climate change activities.


Webinar Questions & Answers 

Question 1:  How has implementation of climate-smart practices under Stepwise influenced coffee productivity?

Answer: Implementing climate-smart practices  reduced the BCTB pest infestation and increased the length of the primary coffee bearing branches. Practices like mulching and cover crops also retained enough moisture in the soil to improve the coffee branches’ yield.

Question 2: How can farmers access information from the OFTT trials about which improved varieties are best?

Answer: The OFTT are established in different Arabica growing districts where we often organize farmer field days so that the  host farmers of the OFTT can engage visiting farmers from the community. In this way, other farmers are able  to see and learn about the differences in performance of various improved coffee varieties against climate-smart practices.

Question 3: Where can we access information about the ARC tools?

Answer: Information about the ARC tools can be accessed on the coffee&climate website online:

Question 4: What were the actual on-farm practices and infrastructure that were introduced to the farmers?

Answer: Soil erosion control using trenches and other methods, rainwater harvesting and simple irrigation, mulching, shade trees, improved coffee varieties, cover crops and others. These practices were also promoted alongside basic good agronomic practices like rejuvenation especially stumping,  weeding, de-suckering etc.

Question 5: How receptive were the farmers to the practices introduced and was there any bias towards adoption of some practices to others. If so, what were the reasons?

Answer: The receptiveness varied among farmers, some took time to adjust to new methods of doing things making adoption  slightly slow  in the  beginning. Stumping for example was resisted a lot because it involved farmers cutting down old branches which meant initially loosing some yield. Additionally the cost of the practices can be a challenge for some farmers to adopt for example buying mulching or pesticides. Farmers also find buying improved coffee varieties quiet expensive at   1500 UGX which is five times more expensive than the local varieties which are only 300 UGX.

Question 6: You have reached 1,548 smallholder farming households, do you have a statistical break down of female headed house holds, and other vulnerable categories?

Answer: 31% of the total number of households reached were female headed.

Question 7: Is there a documented return on investment calculation to support a business case on adopting climate smart practices?

Answer: Yes when the entire climate smart adaptation package is applied, we have seen a 17%-25% return on investment. This means that when you invest 1 Ugandan shilling in coffee you receive a return of 17 – 25 Ugandan shillings.

Question 8: What is the cultural method and chemical method implemented to control the BCTB pest?

Answer: In Stepwise, the cultural methods we used were plucking and burning every 28 days which is the life-cycle of the BCTB pest. For chemical methods we used two chemicals – Imidacloprid and Orius in combination to eliminate the pest and the fungal growth that it spreads. This was done 10 times a year on a monthly basis. When we compared the two methods we didn’t see a difference so the recommendation to farmers is to continue using cultural methods because it is more cost effective.

Question 9: Is there information on the yield increase at each step of the Stepwise?

Answer: Yes, in each step there was a yield increase in comparison to the control. Overall the yield increase was most significant in step 4 where there was a yield increase of 50% in comparison to the control.

Question 10: Did the project consider any economics of irrigation in coffee?

Answer: Under the ARC project, we promoted run- off rain water harvesting into concrete tanks ( about 30,000 litres storage capacity) and simple irrigation of young coffee especially during the dry seasons using bottle irrigation and treadle pump system. However we did not conduct a detailed analysis of the return on investment as the longer term effects go beyond the project time-frame. aBi TRUST conducted a detailed study on “Irrigation Investment and Market Analysis for a number of value chains inclusive of coffee.” Contact them for further details.

Question 9: Comparing the # of households and the acreage they work, did you observe any draw backs due to this ratio?

Answer: We did not encounter any drawbacks related to number of households vs acreage under climate smart practices during project implementation. The average area under coffee per household in the project area is 0.5-2.5 ha. Our general observation is that farmers with smaller land tend to focus more on food crop production to meet their household needs. However through inter-cropping and intensification even those with limited land can be able to grow coffee and diversify their income.

Question 10: Do you have a gender strategy in place?

Answer: Gender is a fundamental part of the HRNS Theory of Change and is integrated in all livelihood components. HRNS has developed a Gender Household Approach, which was piloted in East Africa with the objective of promoting coffee farming as a household enterprise. Joint goal-setting and joint decision-making, especially between spouses, are the two key components. The HRNS Gender Household Approach has been assessed using a randomized control trial (RCT) by a researcher from the University of Antwerp.

Question 11: The Uganda’s population is that 70% is below 30 years. What strategies do you recommend to ensure that the youth participate effectively.

Answer: In the ARC project some strategies were put in place to involve youth. 22 youth were trained as coffee management resource persons offering commercialized services (paid services) to members of their farmer organizations. These services include: coffee planting pruning, stumping, construction of water trenches, fertilizer application, spaying among others.

Question 12: Did you do a gender analysis of the coffee value chain to identify where both women and men are effectively participating and what were the gaps?

Answer: During the gender sensitization trainings, farmer organizations were supported to analyze the coffee value chain, identify gender gaps and develop action plans to address them. A similar approach was used at household level where couples analyzed the distribution of roles and responsibilities of the family members along the value chain, identified gender-based inequalities and developed household plans to ensure equal participation in planning and decision making.

Question 13: Parliament recently passed the Coffee Bill. Are there lessons to pick in terms of improving the sector?

Answer: Through its field-level interventions, the ARC project directly contributed to section 39 of the bill which promotes the use of high yielding, disease resistant and drought tolerant varieties and well as use coffee extension services to train and build capacity of farmers on good agricultural practices. Apart from the establishment of demonstration plots with the improved coffee varieties, the ARC project also supported the establishment of 2 clonal coffee nurseries with improved varieties with the capacity to each supply up to 30,000 seedlings annually thus addressing the growing demands by the smallholder coffee farmers. Furthermore, through the training of trainers approach, the project equipped 74 farmer extensionists with knowledge and tools to provide coffee extension services supporting and complementing the government extension system

Question 14: Do you have interest from roasters and traders in climate smart coffees?

Answer: Under the ARC project we have worked with companies such as UGACOF, Olam, Kawacom, Great Lakes Coffee, Mountain Harvest, Kingha Coffee and Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union (ACPCU). Their interest was not particularly in buying climate-smart coffee but rather in making their supply chains climate-smart.

Question 15: Do we have some datasets on production per unit area in terms of volumes and quality against the baseline. Is it possible to access the data sets collected against the investment metrics?

Answer: IITA will share with the public a project technical report (not data sets as requested) on research work implemented under the Alliance for Resilient Coffee project (ARC). IITA tested different packages of climate-smart agriculture and good agricultural practices at on-farm demonstration/learning sites through the Stepwise approach. IITA also established cover crop adaptation trials and data was captured on coffee productivity. The report will provide detailed information on research conducted. Contact them for further details.

Question 16: What were the most significant challenges faced during the project, how were they addressed and what were the lessons learnt?

Answer: The most significant challenge faced was the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought most of the activities including farmer group trainings (Farmer Field Schools) to halt requiring a change in strategy. This included individual household trainings and visits while adhering to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) announced by the Ministry of Health. Beneficiaries were also reached via phone calls and text messages.

Another challenge was the limited participation of women in decision making regarding income from coffee at household level. This translated in fewer women participating in project activities. To address that, HRNS introduced a gender component into the ARC project through strengthening gender equality through household and farmer organizational level.

Question 17: What is a “household plan”? What does it look like?

Answer: A household plan is a 3-5 year plan developed jointly by the household (husband, wife and other household members) clearly stating their household vision for the period and how best they can jointly plan their household income to achieve this vision. They identify their household sources of income and how much they get from each of these sources (more than 80% of households in the project area get more than half of their income from coffee) and then plan together how to spend and invest this income. In addition to other household expenses such as school fees, clothing, medical care, climate-smart practices such as water harvesting, mulching, construction of trenches, purchase of improved and climate resilient seedlings are also planned and budgeted for. In order to include household members with low literacy levels, the household plan uses simple illustrations and is displayed prominently in the farmers’ homes where it is accessible to all household members.

Question 18: The achievements of this project are encouraging but by no means outstanding: for example over 4 years only 1,550 HH reached, one local government has adopted the toolbox, and some (limited) increases in yields by the beneficiaries. Why?

Answer: The main focus of the ARC project was developing or improving existing approaches on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) and disseminating them within the coffee sector, not farmer outreach. The 1550 households participated in the testing and piloting of the developed tools and approaches. These can now be further scaled within and beyond the Ugandan coffee sector. For example, HRNS is planning to reach 5,000 households with its next project with a holistic livelihood intervention under the initiative for coffee and climate which will be implemented in the districts of Luwero, Nakaseke and Nakasongola integrating the learnings from the ARC project. As mentioned in the webinar, IITA has also started implementation of a new project focused on CSA reaching out to 85,000 households in 26 districts covering all agroecological zones of the Uganda.

Question 19: So, your CC practices are nothing more than good agricultural practices: mulching, shade, water conservation, use of new varieties, cover crops, stumping, etc.?

Answer: There is a thin line between good agricultural practices and climate-smart practices. Based on the three pillars of CSA (adaptation, mitigation and productivity) the practices you mentioned qualify as CSA practices as they address specific climate hazards. The new National Coffee Handbooks (Robusta and Arabica) for Uganda also qualify these practices as CSA practices. Of course, good farm management makes the coffee plants stronger, hence all good agricultural practices contribute to making them more resilient to climate change.

Question 20: What was the most surprising or unexpected outcome from the project?

Answer: It was unusual to see men sitting with their wives and other household members drawing a household vision and developing plans on how to spend the joint household income. In a male dominated culture, the acceptance and willingness to address gender inequalities at household and farmer organizational level was surprisingly high. Additionally, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the households that were trained in the gender household approach, were involved in supporting other community members to address gender based conflicts and gender based violence. This was an unintended positive outcome of the gender intervention.

Question 21: Coffee in India both Arabica & Robusta is grown under shade. What would be impact of climate change on Indian Coffee compared to other countries.

Answer: Coffee is a shade loving crop. In Uganda, an accepted adaptation strategy is the use of shade trees in coffee gardens. However, not every tree is good for shading coffee. We have identified sets of appropriate shade trees in different agroecological zones that coffee farmers can use. Also we have designed a tool known as Shade Tree Advice Smartphone application tool farmers and extension workers can use when selecting trees for other ecosystem services other than shade to coffee. For example trees good for fuel wood, timber, etc.

Question 22: The toolbox shows a cost along with each tool, e.g. the Stepwise tool indicates a cost of $30,000. Can you explain a little about the costs, how the numbers are determined and who gets the money?

Answer: IITA has made the Stepwise Smartphone Application available for free and there are videos available on YouTube which walk through the Stepwise approach in a farmers garden. A mini library of practices have also been made available on YouTube. The mini practice videos demonstrate how a practice is applied in the coffee field.

Question 23: This is not really a question but a concern on Imida application which is providing bad results on the world market. It is being detected in the coffee and is poisonous.

Answer: Though pesticide use was among pest control methods tested on BCTB, the results do not favor promoting the use of Imida and Orius in BCTB control. In our conclusion, we promote the use of cultural control methods of trimming and burning of infested primary branches and twigs. Emphasis is on the adoption of cultural methods integrated with BCTB traps designed by the National Coffee Research Institute (NaCORI). Additionally, it is the mandate of NaCORI to recommend appropriate pesticides for use in coffee. IITA research contributes knowledge to the government decision making process.

Question 24: You have clearly developed some useful tools for small-holders. How do you plan to make those available more broadly across the sector – and possibly also to neighboring countries (I’m thinking particularly of Tanzania and DRC)?

Answer: The tools are available for uptake and scaling by different stakeholders across the sector and are available in the c&c toolbox. During the next phase of the coffee and climate initiative, some of these tools will be further scaled in all 6 countries where HRNS currently operates. In Africa, these are Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Question 25: Your project included some elements of farmer training/interface and some elements of research. Do you have an idea of approximately what percentage was used for each?

Answer: The main focus/purpose of the ARC project was developing or improving existing approaches on CSA. Farmer training was not a major part of the project except for piloting the developed solutions/approaches. Therefore, the distribution was approximately 60% research and 40% farmer training.

Question 26: You mentioned that the fly-crop had been restored in some areas. Given the cost of harvest, and the complexities of having two crops, making it very difficult to ensure accurate picking, I have often wondered whether we wouldn’t do better in Uganda to work towards one harvest, by focusing on ensuring that the main crop harvest is substantial, and “sacrificing” whatever might be there of the fly crop harvest, so as to make the picking easier, more consistent – and especially cheaper (picking is a major cost, isn’t it?). the major downside would be that farmers would have only one point of income during the year, whilst with the fly-crop, at least their income is spread better across the 12 months. I’d be interested in your comments – especially from the agronomy/technical point of view.

Answer: Reinstated fly-crop season is very important to smallholder farmers in terms of income flow. This is likely to reduce the tendencies of some farmers to sell coffee at the flowering stage because of only the main harvest season. Secondly, unscrupulous traders hire casual workers to harvest coffee at mature green stage applying poor harvesting methods such as stripping – a non-selective method that damages the nodes, reducing the next seasons berry formation and thus reducing the farmers subsequent coffee yields and quality. The fly-crop harvest season is attributed to adoption of good management practices and is different from intermittent flowering observed due to impacts of climate-change (erratic rain and unexpected dry periods) implying that farmers will keep picking coffee in small volumes throughout the year. The latter has serious impacts on coffee quality and is also labour intensive. The period between the reinstated fly-crop season is Mar-June and the main harvest season is Oct-Dec. There is sufficient time between the two seasons so farmers are able to mobilize resources and labour to handle the harvest seasons.

To learn more about the ARC project visit:

Funded by: The United States Agency for International Development  (USAID)

ARC members: