Coffee farmers in Gicumbi district have expressed dissatisfaction over the lack of fertilizers and pesticides to boost their yields and even the little harvests they get are sold at very low prices.
Coffee is among cash crops of Gicumbi district.
Kayijuka Papias, 61, a resident of Giti sector says he has been growing coffee for 40 years but has lost interest in growing the crop since they no longer get good returns.
“In the past, one would buy a bicycle and clothe his family from coffee harvest. Any person found in the compound with a brand new bicycle would be called a coffee grower and rich person. Had I had the permission of uprooting all coffee plants, I would and switch to growing banana. Neighbors who planted banana recently have earned much more and get government support,” he said.
“In the past we had extension workers giving advisory services to coffee farmers. Today there is no more such services,” said Nkuriyinka Martin, another coffee farmer.
The vice mayor in charge of economic affairs and development in Gicumbi district, Muhizi Jules Aimable argues that coffee farmers are not supported.
“It is true that coffee growing has deteriorated. Farmers are not assisted, they face shortage of fertilizers and pesticides. Even when it is availed, the supplies are inadequate. We will soon collaborate with stakeholders to bring back Gicumbi coffee on market,” he said.
The National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) says that the decrease of coffee planting resulted from weakness of leaders and coffee processing plants that are responsible for availing fertilizers and pesticides to farmers.
“The problem cannot be linked to NAEB. Farmers in other districts like Rulindo and Gakenke partnered with local leaders and have since been supported. I think the matter is going to be solved since we are planning to avail fertilizers and pesticides through agents called ‘Inkeragutabara’. However leaders are asked to be involved,” Kabagire John, the representative of NAEB in Northern Province told IGIHE.
The recent research of NAEB in 2015 indicated that coffee planting is found in 18 among 21 sectors of Gicumbi district practiced by 11,783 farmers owning 2,271,589 plants cultivated on the area of 1,046.318 hectares.