Thursday, April 07, 2011

Coffee expert says national agriculture development plan living in ‘fantasy’ land


A coffee industry expert has accused architects of the controversial National Agriculture Development Plan (NADP) of living in “fantasy” with their unrealistic projections for the industry.
Well-known coffee personality, David Rumbarumba, has joined cocoa, copra and palm oil in rubbishing unrealistic projections contained in the “realigned” NADP, which were provided to the Department of National Planning and Monitoring’s (DNPM) national development strategic plan 2030 (DSP 2030).
The NADP expects coffee to reach 500,000 metric tonnes in 2030 from 73, 868mt this year – a massive 700% increase.
This projection will also be part of the much-vaunted Vision 2050.
“Five hundred metric tonnes is 8, 333, 333 bags of green bean (exportable coffee),” said Rumbarumba, who is general manager of Awute Coffee Producers.
“This is more than 700% increase from current average of 73, 868mt (1, 231,133 bags).
“Correct current average volume is around 54,000mt, or 900, 000 bags – not even a million bags!
“Basing on this target, 500,000mt will be more than 900% achieved in 19 years!
“This target is ridiculously ambiguous and an unrealistic dream, or shall I say ‘fantasy’, by the government and its agents.
“Where does the DNPM and DAL get their data from?
“I can gurantee that such a volumetric target will not be achieved in 19 years or even 100 years, and I can certainly bet my life on that.”
Rumbarumba said only once in coffee’s 60-year history, in 1998 after the 1997 drought, did coffee achieve its biggest-ever production of 1.23 million bags, and it had since slumped
He said coffee was competing with other subsistence crops for land space, due to population growth, and there was no gurantee that there would be more plantings.
Rumbarumba said compounded by all the problems, the government had not even invested in coffee over the years, even leaving stakeholders to fund research and extension industry levy.
“A reasonable target for coffee in the next 20 years would be to double the volume from current 54,000mt (900,000 bags) to 110,00mt, or a target of two million bags,” he said.
“This was the industry’s target in its two five-year strategic plans 10 years ago, but it was not achieved, because the government failed to support the plan with funding of its programmes.
“We in the coffee industry believe two million bags can be achievable with right and consistent financial and policy support from the national government.”
Rumbarumba called on government to:

• Directly fund the Coffee Industry Corporation with K30-K40 million a year to reactivate research and extension programmes, industry regulations, farmer training and marketing programmes, coffee nursery developments, and coffee rehabilitation;

• Create a government ministry for commodities, separate from agriculture and livestock; and

• Create a commodities bank with open and soft lending policies.

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