Many people in Uganda are really feeling the pinch when it comes to COVID-19. Specifically, many coffee farmers are struggling economically and will do once life returns to some kind of 'normality.'
When I mention coffee growers, I'm not referring to large coffee farms or co-operatives, I mean ordinary people that grow coffee on their land and sell it to support their families.
In Kanungu district where I'm currently staying, many people in the lowlands grow Robusta, whereas those in the highlands focus on Arabica. Coffee is also grown in many other parts of Uganda and is widely exported to neighbouring Kenya for auction.
Coffee in Uganda is regulared by the Ugandan Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), an organisation that has provided critical support to coffee farmers during this COVID-19 crisis.
The UCDA and the coffee sector at large has provided a donation of 142,800,000 UGX (approximately £30,000) to support community outreach programmes led by the Ugandan COVID-19 task force. They've also donated two four wheel drive vehicles to support the delivery of essential services in coffee growing regions across the country, as well as food to those most at risk of suffering from food shortages during this time.
Moreover, in spite of the imposed lockdown, the coffee sector in Uganda has registered high export value, with an estimated $46million USD worth of coffee exported last month. However, in spite of this good news, forecasts suggest that the Ugandan coffee sector will struggle post COVID-19 as many key importers, such as Italy, will still be recovering economically from their lockdown, which will have a knock on effect to producers like Uganda.
In order to support coffee growers during lockdown, we as consumers can do one simple thing:
KEEP BUYING COFFEE!
Furthermore, if we're connected to or passionate about a certain community, then we can buy directly from them, to support people we have a relationship with during this time.