The last batch of coffee seedlings was handed over to farmers in April finalizing the ambitious Sh5 billion project that was started in 2012.
"We concluded the distribution of 1.01M coffee seedlings to the three farmers' associations this week. We have therefore distributed the entire 16.7M coffee seedlings meant for the project," Thaddeus Businge, Geocycle, Forestry Operations Coordinator at Hima Cement said in a statement.
The farmers in Kasese received 11.7 million seedlings through Kasese District Farmer's Association and Bukonzo Joint Co-operative while Kamwenge District Farmers Organisation received 5 million seedlings.
Hima Cement launched the coffee project in April 2012 committing Sh5 billion on the project. It is aimed at boosting coffee production in the two districts, and improving the incomes of about 60,000 smallholder farmers. Hima Cement has been paying Sh300 for each seedling and the farmer pays Sh50 which caters for farming extension services from the farmers' organizations.
Eric Baluku of Bukonzo Joint Cooperative said the seedlings distributed by Hima Cement are of superior quality in terms of survival rate.
"Those planted at the upper lands survive by up to 90% because it is cooler and get good rains. Even in the lower lands about 80% survive," Mr Baluku said.
Meanwhile, farmers who planted their seedlings in the initial phases have been receiving good harvest.
"The people we started with have started to harvest and its clean coffee, with some even getting 2-3 kg of clean coffee from one tree," Mr Baluku added.
"As for last season's harvest, the information got from the farmers shows that the coffee distributed in phase 1 yielded an average of 1.5kg per plant, considering we gave out 7.1 million seedlings in phase 1 and considering survival of 80%, the total harvest last season was about 8,500 tons," said Mr. Businge
"The yield is expected to increase as the coffee grows and farmers get access to extension services," he added.
Income to the farmers expected to be at €27M by year 2020 from the project.
The cement manufacturer buys back the coffee husks from the farmers as an alternative fuel for burning clinker in the cement plant in a bid to conserve the environment by using less fossil fuel. Hima Plant is sustaining its biomass substitution at 56% thus reducing its carbon footprint.