Coffee Seedling Entrepreneur Maximizes Profits Using Bio-gas Technology in Uganda


Best bio-slurry application practice-Uganda Domestic Bio-gas Programme

 Coffee production activity in Uganda is a major income earner both at the national and household levels. Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), the Government Agency responsible for the coffee sector, estimates that about 500,000 households depend on coffee production.

Despite being a widely grown cash crop in the country, coffee propagation still faces challenges. Quality coffee seedlings are not easily available to the farmers in sufficient quantities, especially during periods of high demand in the rainy seasons. In addition, the coffee seedling production process is usually long and the costs incurred are directly proportional to the length of the production cycle. Furthermore, the production is still centrally controlled by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority [UCDA].

 UCDA usually recommends coffee farmers from upcountry in the high potential coffee producing areas to operate nursery beds for the production of quality coffee seedlings. Both UCDA and the coffee nursery bed operators sign a mutual benefits agreement in which the nursery bed operator provides all the inputs and the labor required for the successful operation of the nursery bed while UCDA provides technical assistance, quality assurance and the market for the coffee seedlings.

 In this best bio-slurry application practice, a description is made of how Henry Kagambo, a coffee seedling producer and digester owner, uses bio-slurry to reduce the challenges of coffee seedling propagation.

 Story of Henry Kagambo

Henry Kagambo, a biogas promoter, is one of the coffee seedling producers in his Sub County. His coffee nursery was recommended and registered by the UCDA to propagate Robusta or Arabica coffee on a commercial basis and for distribution to coffee farmers of his area. His family and coffee nursery bed enterprise are located in Kitijo village, Buyanja Sub County of Rukungiri district.  In 2009, Henry’s family was able to install a 9m3 bio-digester in their home, thanks to the support from Uganda Domestic Biogas Programme (UDBP)/Heifer International, HIVOs and SNV. From the bio digester, the family obtains biogas for both cooking and lighting in addition to bio-slurry for manure used in the coffee seedling production and for other crop production enterprises such as the vegetables. In April 2011, Henry participated in a bio-slurry training organized by UDBP where he acquired knowledge in the use of bio-slurry in the production of coffee seedlings.

According to Henry, the basic activities he undertakes in the coffee seedling production process include;

  • Preparation of the beds
  • Planting of the coffee beans in the beds
  • Transplanting of the pre-germs into polybags
  • General maintenance during the germination and development
Henry displays the quality coffee beans ready for planting

Coffee seedlings from Henry’s nursery bed are among the best I’ve ever seen” commented the area MP

Henry (right) with an attendant in his coffee nursery

Henry (right) with an attendant in his coffee nursery
Henry (right) with an attendant in his coffee nursery

The major costs Henry incurs in the operation of his coffee seedling nursery bed include; purchase of the certified coffee seeds and the polybags, in addition to the payment for labour for preparing the beds, sowing of the seeds, mulching, watering, polybags filling with the potting medium, pricking out the pre-germs from the beds and transplantation to the polybags.

Henry produces on average 40, 000 coffee seedlings annually from his nursery bed and uses either hired or permanent labour depending on its availability. He requires purchasing a maximum of 40kg of the coffee seeds (20 kg Robusta and 20 kg Arabica) worth Ug. Shs 36,400 at a rate of Ug. Shs 910 per kg and 100 kg of the polybags worth Ug. Shs 50,000 at a rate of Ug. Shs.500/kg. In order to fill 500 polybags with potting medium and transplant the pre-germs into the polybags requires a labour cost ofUg. Shs.11,000 and 250 person-days. Therefore, filling and potting of 40,000 polybags requires a total cost of Ug. Shs. 880,000. Additional labour for preparing the beds, sowing of the seeds, mulching and watering is estimated at an average cost of Ug. Shs. 1,760,000.

 Henry’s Income Statement calculated on a cash basis (shillings) for the period ended December 31:

Sales revenue                                                   12,000,000

Less: Cost of goods sold

             Coffee beans expenses                       36,400

             Polybags expenses                              50,000

             Shelter expenses                                 50,000

            Labour expenses                                  2,640,000

             Transport expenses                                     200,000

 Total expenses                        2,976,400

Gross profit                                                                             9,023,600


Results of the practice

The coffee nursery bed operator has carried out an assessment of the effect of use of composted or dried bio-slurry in the propagation of the coffee seedlings and has observed that; there is a reduction in the germination time thus leading to reduced costs of the seedling production cycle. Seedlings are availed to the farmers in a shorter period of time. In addition, healthy, strong and pest resistant coffee seedlings are produced and thus attract good market.


It is evident from the results of application and use of either composted or dried bio-slurry manure in coffee seedling production that there is a reduction in the germination time thus leading to reduced costs of the coffee seedling production cycle. Therefore, seedlings can be availed to the farmers in a shorter period of time and planting can be done by the farmers just in time when the rains are available. Nursery bed operators save on costs of operation of the nursery beds, and hence maximize on their profits. In addition, healthy, strong and pest resistant coffee seedlings are produced. These attract a good market and can meet the demand for quality coffee seedlings. It is therefore, recommended that coffee seedling producers and entrepreneurs adopt the use of biogas technology as a source of bio-slurry manure or alternatively link up with biogas/slurry users to acquire the manure for use in their nursery operation enterprises.


  1. Coffee Research Foundation, 2013: Nairobi, Kenya.
  2.  Ibero (Uganda) Limited, 2005: Manual for sustainable coffee production.
  3. Uganda Investment Authority, 2011: Coffee sector profile.