Uganda, a source country for Mutombo Coffee, is developing drought tolerant coffee varieties to save valuable cash crop

After releasing coffee varieties resistant to wilt disease, Ugandan agricultural scientists have begun developing Robusta varieties that are drought-tolerant as well.

But because Uganda lacks a biosafety law, researchers said they cannot use faster gene editing tools such as CRISPR-Cas to develop the new varieties. Instead, they anticipate the process will take about 10 years.

Uganda is one of the leading exporters of Robusta coffee in Africa. The cash crop earned the East African country US$559 million last year, according to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority.

But the plant is increasingly threatened by drought and other unpredictable weather patterns, prompting scientists to seek a solution.

“We have to continuously develop better varieties. That’s how it is,” said Betty Magambo, a researcher at the National Coffee Research Institute (NaCORI). “The environment is evolving, we have newer diseases and soils are now less fertile. So, we cannot really just sit back and relax. We have to give farmers options.”

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Robert C. Bush Jr

About Robert C. Bush Jr

I am a senior investment executive with experience across industries (advanced manufacturing, financial services, energy, ICT, e-health, life sciences, security, and retail), geographies (USA, Europe, China, Middle East and Africa), as well as asset classes (venture capital, private equity, Islamic finance). I have engaged in a full array of financial and operating special projects for sovereign-related entities, family businesses, family offices, investment companies, corporates, and startups. I have participated in more than $30 billion in transactions and co-managed assets of nearly $10 billion (usd). I speak frequently to governments, universities, and corporates on issues related to innovation, corporate governance, asset management, and evidence-based investing. Additionally, I provide commentary on live television and international media, including CNN International, Euromoney, and Fox Business News, as well as speak at global conferences, including the UAE’s Annual Investment Meeting (AIM), Milken Conference, Institutional Investor, Business Week CEO Forum, GAIM and dozens of startup pitch events around the globe. My unique, global experiences, love for teaching and learning, as well my established network of relationships, fuel my interests in entrepreneurship, prudent-decision making, and innovation. If you are living a purpose-driven life, let's connect!

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