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Understanding young people’s engagement with the coffee value chain in Uganda

September 5, 2018 11:48 am

National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE) was established in 1995 and has 175 members that altogether represent 170,000 households in Uganda. NUCAFE represents the interests of coffee farmers in Uganda and aims at farmer empowerment by focusing on social development and business development. The Government of Uganda regards coffee as a strategic commodity and has the ambition to produce 20 million bags of coffee in 2020. Youth unemployment in Uganda is high with 64%. Involvement of youth in the coffee sector is regarded as important to achieve the ambitions of the Ugandan Government.

In the first round of research supported by ESFIM, NUCAFE carried out a survey with 312 people to understand young people’s engagement with the coffee value chain in Uganda. The survey revealed interesting results, such as the fact that 90% of those participating in the coffee value chain were involved in production, and that the main reason for their engagement in coffee farming was their belief that there is money to be made in coffee farming. However, the research found that young people involved in coffee production face several challenges. The three main challenges faced are lack of access to land and credit, and drought. A positive relationship was found between membership of a coffee association and income generated from coffee production, i.e. the higher the income from coffee, the more likely people are organised within an association.

The initial results provide some interesting insights, but lead as well to several in-depth questions such as: “Under what conditions are young people able to (further) engage in the coffee value chain?”; “Under what conditions can they be (more) successful?”; “In what ways do young people think that the major challenges of access to land and credit, and drought, be overcome?”; and “What may explain the positive relation of coffee association membership and income generated from coffee farming?”. Issues such as gender participation in the coffee value chain and young people’s preferred livelihood choices will also be explored. Essentially, while the first round of the research provided an interesting glimpse into “what” is happening with young people’s engagement with the coffee value chain, the second round of research supported by ESFIM will seek to understand “why” young people are engaging in the coffee sector the way they are, and “how” they feel that engagement and success can be increased. These questions will be explored using primarily qualitative methods, i.e. interviews and focus-group discussions, and possibly participatory methods as well. A combination of these research findings, will lead to an in-depth understanding of young people’s engagement with the coffee value chain and to recommendations for policy makers and practitioners in this field.

The research activities started in July 2018. NUCAFE research will be finalized by end of October 2018.