The Harvest of Uganda’s Kisansa Coffee is just Ongoing
The harvest of Kisansa coffee in Zirobwe, Luwero district is ongoing and the Slow Food Uganda team just came from a regular field visit to see the farmers and monitor activities related to the harvesting. Kisansa is an old coffee variety that originally appeared in a forest in Uganda and thanks to its high yield, good resistence to all known coffee diseases and good adaptation to climate change, Kisansa stays appreciated and grown by the Ugandan farmers until now. This is the reason why Kisansa was recognized by Slow Food and became part of the Presidia projects.
A riped coffee cherry of Kisansa coffee, just ready to be picked.
The harvest starts from January up to middle of April and the best producing trees can give a farmer up to 300 kg coffee cherries. This season looked very promising; in 2016 farmers received holistic training on coffee harvesting and post-harvest practices and were advised on the importance of a good, clean and fair product. The leader of the cooperative, Mr. Mubiru, was invited to Italy to attend Terra Madre where he experienced lots of attention for this unique coffee that he grows in his garden. The farmers are now trying to follow the best processing practices such as, drying coffee on raised African beds that allow air circulation, keeping the coffee away from goats and chickens, turning the beans a few times during the day to prevent fermentation, and picking only red ripened cherries that are just ready for harvesting. However, the Slow Food has identified many challenges that the farmers are now facing.
.This harvest season has been hit by a severe drought. The last rain in Zirobwe was observed more than 3 weeks ago and even though this condition is fine for coffee drying, the cherries are not juicy enough which will affect the coffee‘s taste. ‘‘The coffee cherry is green, then it turns yelow and after that it starts to go black. The ripening stage is missing‘‘ says one farmer from Zirobwe. Luckily, Kisansa is a tall tree with a deep root system, compared to many other coffee varieties, and can resist a drought relatively well. However, the harvest will still be affected.
After visiting a few gardens and talking to the farmers we also identified other challenges. Recently, there has been a road renovation and extension. Unfortunately, the machinery destroyed some coffee trees that grew by the road side and unfortunately for the farmers, these were due to be harvested within a couple of weeks. Among other challenges were non functional pulping machines which will be fixed by a technician within next days and missing nets for coffee drying that will now be distributed by Slow Food.
Kisansa trees in a garden of one of the coffee farmer that we visited in Zirobwe.
Even though the farmers are going through these challenges, they keep praying for the best and we all hope that the quality of Kisansa coffee will be significantly improved compared to the previous years thanks to the new practices being applied. We can’t wait to taste this incredible coffee and hope that the farmers and consumers alike will grow to appreciate this truly unique product.
If you wish to know more about the unique Kisansa coffee, attend the Annual Coffee Festival organized by Slow Food Uganda, that will take place at the Ugandan Christian University in Mukono, 18th February 2017!
Author: Dana Siedem, Date: 3rd February 2017