Published: Monday 31 May 1999

The coffee wilt disease that has destroyed millions of coffee trees in central and western Uganda over the past six years has now spread to the eastern regions of the country. A top official of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority ( ucda ) confirmed that the disease has spread to Jinja and Kamuli districts, bringing the total number of districts affected to 18. Uganda has a total of 30 coffee-growing districts. Recent studies on the disease conducted at the Coffee Research Centre at Kituza, Mukono district, found that all local coffee varieties are susceptible to it. However, while none of the eight robusta varieties is resistant, the newly-introduced cloned coffee was found to be tolerant, while arabica , though susceptible, has not yet been attacked. The ucda development officer, E S Lutaakome Ssentamu, said latest reports indicate that the fast-spreading disease may claim five million coffee trees by 2002. As a result, ucda is speeding up the coffee replanting programme to replace all existing varieties with cloned coffee.

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