Climate changes associated with higher temperatures, droughts and changes in rainfall patterns is
a huge threat to the lives of coffee communities across the globe, including in Uganda. The use of
agroforestry (AF) practices, i.e. planting of shade trees on coffee farms, is one of the recommend
nature-based strategies against climate change. However, despite the widely known benefits of
AF, only a small share of the world’s coffee production comes from this kind of shaded production
systems. Why is this? This paradox is central in the research project “The Agroforestry Paradox –
Climate Clever Coffee” (APCCO), which looks to uncover the biophysical interactions, local
ecological knowledge and socioeconomics behind on-farm decisions relating to coffee-AFS and
climate change. The project focuses on Robusta coffee, which is the commercially most important
coffee species in Uganda, but has been partly neglected in coffee research.
The APCCO project is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and administered
by Danida Fellowship Centre under the grant no. 23-06-KU. The project comprises a strong group
of partners, incl. Makerere University (MAK)-Uganda, the University of Copenhagen, National
Coffee Research Institute Uganda (NaCORI), Mukono Zonal Agricultural Research and
Development Institute (MuZARD), CURAD Incubator, GrowGrounds, NewForesight, and Regen
Farmer. Through interdisciplinary efforts, APCCO will collect data among coffee farmers and on
coffee farms, and funnel new knowledge into digitalized farm simulators (so-called ‘digital twins’)
of local coffee AF systems. These digital tools will enable the modelling of different scenarios for
agroforestry development specific to the Ugandan environment. Ecosystems services, such as
carbon sequestration and production of coffee and tree crops, will also be modelled, optimized and
used to fine-tune current AF practices. Supplemented with assessments of farmers’ livelihoods,
we aim to document and improve the living income of farmers. Using a ‘living lab’, where actors
in the Uganda coffee sector will co-create and test new business models, APCCO will also develop
integrated business models for coffee and ecosystem services.