Thirty-five Arabica coffee farmers and cooperative societies from all over Uganda have received an assortment of equipment to boost their processing capacity, especially for coffee destined for the foreign market.
The estimated value of the equipment, sourced by the Ministry of agriculture, animal industry, and fisheries, is worth sh2.2b.
In a recent statement issued by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), the equipment included five electric-powered wet processing units with a capacity to process 1,200 kgs of cherry per hour and 30 petrol-powered units with a processing capacity of 800kgs of cherry per hour.
Speaking during the handover of the equipment, Fred Kyakulaga, the Minister of State for Agriculture, said that due to the increase in competition on the global market, farmers need to uphold quality standards if Uganda is to hold on to its position as the biggest coffee exporter in Africa.
“These are part of the Government’s efforts to increase speciality coffee volumes and enable farmers and the country to earn premium prices from high-quality Arabica coffee,” he said at the Tirupati stores in Kyebando, Kampala recently.
He said the equipment will serve farmers and groups in hard-to-reach areas of Kween, Lamwo, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Buhweju, Kanungu, and Kisoro.
The machines will pulp ripe coffee, separate the unripe and dry pods from the good parchment, and remove mucilage, leaving high-quality parchment.
According to UCDA, Uganda currently has 18 commercial wet mills compared to over 850 dry mills.
“There is a need to scale up wet processing to produce commercial volumes in Arabica and Robusta growing areas which will fetch farmers premium prices,” further reads the statement.
Most Ugandan coffee is processed and marketed as natural and does not attract premium prices, whereas if processed, washed and marketed as speciality coffee, it would earn more.
It is hoped that the wet mills will increase the production of premium coffee which in turn will enhance the income of coffee farmers.
Coffee exports for 12 months (June 2021-May 2022) totaled 6.35 million bags worth $837.14m compared to 5.88 million bags worth $540.54m the previous year (June 2020-May 2021).
This represents an increase of 8% and 55% in both quantity and value respectively.