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Coffee Stakeholders Resolve To Meet 20 Million Bags Annual Target

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Joseph Bahingwire

Key stakeholders in the coffee sector have discussed how to increase coffee production and value-addition in a bid to fetch the local farmer more money and meet the 20 million bags annual target by 2030, as per the Coffee Roadmap that was launched by President Yoweri Museveni.

The three-day seminar at the Speke Resort Munyonyo was dominated by the need to increase the visibility of Ugandan coffee on the international market, value-addition, research, the need to strengthen farmer organisations, increased support for local producers to participate in the export market, as well as coffee industry sustainability.

Willis Bashasha, the director manifesto implementation, under the Offi ce of the President, said the retreat for stakeholders in the coffee value chain was to deliberate on how they can address the issues and challenges affecting the coffee sector, so as to improve its productivity.

It involved farmers, processors, and all other players along the coffee value chain and the resolutions were handed over to the Prime Minister and the responsible line ministers for implementation.

“We are trying to address the challenges facing the industry, where players thought that government was not doing enough, for example, in managing diseases that were affecting the crop, how we can also improve on the value-addition, so as to increase job opportunities and help the sector expand on the revenues being earned from the crop,” he said.

Bashasha noted that coffee is one of the key agricultural commodities in the government of Uganda’s pursuance of sustainable growth and job creation, especially for the rapidly expanding youth population, hence the need to support its growth. Joseph Nkandu, the executive director NUCAFE, a coffee producing and exporting company, said the fact that for a long time Uganda has not done much in value addition, required them to discuss institutional arrangement required to transform the coffee sector.

“As a country, we have been earning very little from the coffee sector. Globally, the coffee industry generates 460 billion dollars. When all coffee-producing countries are combined, they earn an average of $25b dollars, an average of 5% of the global value of coffee, which is too low. Uganda earns 0.17% of this 5%, meaning a lot more effort is required for the country to benefi t from the coffee sector,” Nkandu said.

He added that the discussion also focused on the need to strengthen farmer organisations and co-operatives to ensure that many farmers that produce the second most traded commodity in the world are empowered.

“We want government to fund the sector to enable private sector players carry out value-addition so that the locals can have a large market share, compared to the foreign companies who control over 80% of the export share, leaving the locals at a disadvantage,” Nkandu added.

He said as stakeholders, they are keen on ensuring support into research along the entire value chain and how best they can properly market Ugandan coffee with traceability so that is not lost along the way.

“We have also discussed sustainability as a whole, including environmental standards, health standards and labour standards, among others. We believe that once we start moving in the same direction with government, we shall be able to beat the government target of 20 million bags per year,” he noted.

Gerald Ssendawula, the chairperson of NUCAFE, said they met to discuss Farmers drying coffee.

The stakeholders’ focus is to intensify everything in the coffee value chain about coffee and the future of coffee, bearing in mind that it is one of the most important crops for Uganda’s economy.

He noted that government has been making funds available to procure seedlings so that more coffee can be planted, which has led to an increase in production from 4.5 million bags in FY2015/16 to 8.4 million bags in FY 2021/22.

“The announcement that came last year that UCDA should go to the ministry, is not just resented by people, but we feel we can have some input and government has agreed that we come together and possibly exchange views on the proposal to take UCDA back to the ministry. This is among the reasons we are here,” he said.

Ssendawula added that they are against the Cabinet decision to take UCDA to the agriculture ministry, because it needs the speed of a commercial nature than that of civil service approach when dealing with coffee.

He said an autonomous body like UCDA should be allowed to take care and facilitate the growth of the sector if the country is to remain competitive in the coffee industry.

The largest foreign exchange earner

Victoria Sekitoleko, the chairperson of Uganda Agribusiness Alliance, said coffee remains the largest foreign exchange earner and employer in agriculture, and the fastest way of creating jobs, the reason its sustainability was high on the agenda of their discussions.

She said their focus is to intensify everything in the coffee value chain, starting from research, seedlings availability, processing and traders.

“We are looking at strengthening and maintaining the coffee sector in such a way that it keeps leading. In value-addition, we are looking at quality of coffee from ensuring that the farmer has good trees, because with that, you are assured of good coffee,” she said.

She added that they are committed to improving the quality of coffee that the country is producing and increasing on the quantity so that we get to the 20 million bags annual target.

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