Despite an annual market of $44.6 billion USD (€41.4 billion, 2021/2022), coffee farmers are among the poorest farmers in the world. Coffee crops are located close to the equator in Asia, Central America, and Africa.
In Uganda, where over 70% of the population works in the agricultural sector, coffee plantations are primarily operated by "small-scale producers," which refers to families who cultivate their land. Coffee trees are grown alongside food crops such as cassava, plantain, avocado, and beans, benefiting from the shade provided by these crops for their growth and the development of coffee cherries. Coffee is one of the main cash crops for these producer families, along with vanilla, maize, and sometimes cotton. The income generated from these crops allows families to purchase what they cannot produce themselves (food, clothing, tools) and educate their children. A wide network of cooperatives enables producers to pool resources such as machinery for drying and hulling coffee cherries, warehouses for storing coffee bags, communication means, and skills for billing and distribution. The bags are eventually transported by truck to the port of Mombasa in Kenya, from where they are exported to consuming countries. The main coffee production areas are the mountains in the west of the country (Arabica) and around Lake Victoria (Robusta), the second-largest freshwater reservoir in the world. Thanks to the presence of food crops and the proximity to the lake or mountains, which provide freshwater, Ugandan coffee farmers are not in a state of extreme poverty, but their situation is precarious. Given the low incomes of families, any incident such as accidents or illness has significant consequences for the entire family, including the education of children. Like all agricultural productions, coffee is affected by the consequences of climate change. On the one hand, the quantity and quality of harvested cherries are already impacted by the lack of precipitation. On the other hand, the distinction between rainy and dry seasons is becoming less pronounced. The cherry harvest periods are now spread throughout the year, posing logistical challenges for farmers and cooperatives. To adapt to the consequences of climate change and improve their coffee crop income, cooperatives are organizing themselves. Several research projects are being conducted at the national level with the support of Ugandan institutes such as NaCORI (National Coffee Research Institute) and NaFORRI (National Forest Resources Research Institute) and financial assistance from the European Union. The focus areas include improving Robusta plants to develop varieties resistant to diseases and drought and with higher cherry production capacity (both in terms of quality and quantity) compared to the current coffee plants in circulation. The promotion of good agroforestry practices is also being disseminated, encouraging the presence of certain tree species near coffee plants while avoiding competing species. Additionally, cooperatives are beginning to introduce geographical indications (GI) to enhance the value of high-quality coffee, primarily focusing on Arabica in the Rwenzori Mountains region. Despite Uganda's average CO2 emissions per capita being lower than 0.15 tons per year (40 times less than an inhabitant of the European Union), Ugandan coffee farmers are already adapting to the consequences of climate change, which is largely induced by developed countries.