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

The 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, 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 i) lack of access to land and ii) to credit and iii) drought. We found a positive relationship 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.

While the first round of the research provided us with an interesting glimpse into “what” is happening with young people’s engagement with the coffee value chain, the second round of research was initiated to further understand “why” young people are engaging in the coffee sector the way they are, and “how” they feel that engagement and success can be


The study found that the desire to make money and the need to be self-employed are strong factors that drove youth to participate in coffee. Specifically, access to credit was observed to influence youth participation. In fact a unit increase in credit to the youth would result in 0.95 units of youth participation in the value chain. Secondly, increased access to land and belonging to farmers associations would also positively affect youth participation in the value chain.

Proud of

  • Key barriers that need to be addressed are clear – land, affordable credit and knowledge.
  • Willingness of the strategic partners/sector actors to address these informed by the research findings and presentation.
  • Amount of data collected.
  • Times series data collection established in NUCAFE to use ODK
  • Increased research capacity and appreciation of research given technical support from Wageningen University, IDS (Institute of Development Studies).

Lessons learnt

  • Length of the survey questionnaire and data collected was too much.
  • Underestimated the amount of time required for the research, good quality research requires time.
  • Use of hard copy questionnaires delayed the process and was challenging for data quality control;
  • Tools for qualitative data should have been shorter and more tailored.