In an air conditioned room at one of Kampala’s popular hotels, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr Christopher Kibanzanga, spoke with confidence about increasing coffee production in Uganda during a press conference at the 16th African Fine Coffee Conference and exhibition in Kampala this Wednesday.
“We [ Uganda] have set a target for ourselves that by 2030, we must be producing 20 million bags (of 60kg) of coffee,” Mr Kibanzanga reminded participants. Uganda’s priority shifted to coffee quantity since April 2017 when President Museveni unveiled a transformative plan known as the coffee road map to grow coffee output from 3.5m bags annually. The roadmap Part of the pillars of the roadmap is to create demand and value addition since the bulk of the produced coffee is exported as raw beans. The road map also emphasises increased production through cooperatives and collective marketing.
The good news is that within the last one and a half years, there has been an increase of 1.3m bags. But how does a country move production to 20m bags? Mr Phil Schluter, an expert on value addition opportunities in the coffee value chain, said looking at how countries such as Colombia did it could provide insight into meeting the target.
Mr Jose Sette, the International Coffee Organisation executive director, pinned Uganda’s success at hitting the 20m target by 2030 on several efforts to support coffee farms. “It means having research into new varieties resistant to disease, extension services that are efficient in bringing good agricultural practices to farm level, improving access to finance because agriculture is seen as a risk business so commercial lending is insufficient,” he said.
Emmanuel Niyibigira, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority managing director, said in terms of value addition, the country expects to set up local businesses for value addition. The country produced 4.6m bags of coffee as of July 2017, green beans that fetched the country Shs1.9 trillion. One kilogramme of raw robusta coffee costs Shs3,000. If exported on the international market, the same kilogramme fetches the country about Shs108,000. Tapping into aspects of Uganda’s chances of successfully penetrating more international markets, experts at the conference said producing quality coffee will definitely usher the country into new markets. [email protected]
By Eronie Kamukama
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