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The national coffee act, 2021

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Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) has grown exponentially over the years. The role of UCDA is to provide an enabling environment for the millions of stakeholders along the coffee value chain to thrive. We have built long lasting relationships with farmers...

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UCDA launches campaign to stump old coffee trees and distribute fertilizers to coffee farmers countrywide

Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) has launched a campaign to stump old coffee trees and rehabilitate abandoned coffee gardens across the country to help increase productivity. 

Under the campaign, UCDA will train farmers on good agricultural practices (GAPS) such as stumping overgrown coffee trees to increase their yield. The Authority will also distribute fertilizers to coffee farmers who comply. 

The campaign titled “Renovate and Rehabilitate your Coffee; Every Tree Counts” was launched on December 10, 2020, at the annual coffee show held at the Kichwamba sub-county headquarters in Rubirizi district. 

The coffee show was organised by Café Africa, aBi Development and UCDA together with Rubirizi District local government. It brought together coffee farmers from western Uganda to learn, share experiences, and collectively find solutions affecting coffee farmers in the region. Unlike the coffee shows held in the past, this one was low key as the organisers endeavoured to adhere to the guidelines for managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

UCDA set up a demonstration plot of 100 Arabica coffee trees where good agricultural practices were demonstrated to participants. The practices included the correct spacing for Arabica and Robusta coffee, how to dig a hole to plant the seedling in, manure application, shade provision, watering, bending a coffee tree to increase productivity, mulching, soil and water conservation, pest and disease identification and control, weed management, fertilizer application, stumping and harvesting.

“After the training, the farmers realised that tall, old coffee trees cannot yield much, and they even make it difficult to carry out some activities such as picking, spraying and pest identification,” Emily Asiimwe, UCDA Regional Coffee Extension Officer said.

“We have trained the farmers on how to stump their coffee trees. This is in line with the campaign we have launched which calls on farmers to renovate and rehabilitate their coffee because every tree counts," she added. 

For the past couple of years, coffee farmers across the country have complained of low soil fertility levels which affect the amount of coffee they harvest every season.

To address this concern, UCDA developed a programme to support coffee farmers with fertilizers. The programme is in line with the fourth initiative of the Coffee Roadmap. The initiative aims to strengthen farmer organisations and producer cooperatives. By distributing fertilizers in the nationwide programme, UCDA aims to support farmers to increase productivity.

Last financial year, UCDA imported 100,000 bags of 25kg each of Fertiplus, an organic fertilizer, and conducted a pilot study before rolling out the national programme to coffee farmers organized in cooperatives or farmer organisations across the country.

During the show, farmers also called on UCDA to support them with pesticides and fungicides to use in the control of coffee pests and diseases most especially black coffee twig borer (BCTB), root mealy bugs, scales, coffee wilt disease (CWD), coffee red blister, and coffee leaf rust which continue to lower both quality and quantity of coffee produced in this sub-region.

In response, Asiimwe told the farmers that UCDA will soon support them with pesticides and fungicides to help fight pests and diseases.

Uganda ranked 3rd country with best coffee globally

Uganda coffee was ranked 3rd best in the world behind Ethiopia and Kenya by professional coffee tasters in a survey of the top 16 coffee-growing countries in the world.

The coffee tasters graded 1,229 coffees from around the world that was harvested from 2010 to 2018 with the top three spots going to African countries.

The professional coffee tasters are certified by the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI), a non-profit organization that works internationally to improve the quality of coffee and the lives of the people who produce it.

The CQI certified coffee graders must pass 22 tests to prove they can grade coffee accurately and consistently by its aroma, flavour, acidity, body, balance and more.

A grading scale with a maximum score of 100 was used to score coffees from each of the 16 countries.

Ethiopia scored the highest average rating with 84.88, followed by Kenya with an average rating of 84.31 and Uganda came third with an average rating of 84.05.

Out of the Uganda coffees that were tested, Arabica coffee owned by Kabum Trading Company in Kapchwora, Eastern Uganda came top with a score of 86.83.

Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye, the Managing Director, Uganda Coffee Development Authority said that Uganda’s coffee has been improving over the years and stakeholders need to more so that Uganda attains the number one position.  

“The quality of Ugandan coffee has been improving over the years following massive sensitization conducted by UCDA among coffee farmers and if everyone in the coffee value chain does it right, we can attain no.1 position in the world.” 

Uganda’s Coffee Sector

Coffee is the second largest valued commodity in international trade and most widely traded tropical agricultural commodity after petroleum. In the East African Community, Uganda remains the lead exporter of coffee, closely followed by Kenya and Tanzania.

Coffee exports for 12 months to October 2020, totaled to 5,409,054 bags worth $513.99m compared to 4,465,534 bags worth $435.81m the previous year. This represents a 20% and 18% increase in both quantity and value. The improved performance was attributed to an increase in production on the account of fruitation of newly planted coffee trees and favourable weather.

Under the Coffee Road Map, the Government aims at accelerating coffee exports to 20 million bags per year.

Uganda Coffee monthly exports soar past 500,000 bags

Uganda registered an in-crease in monthly coffee exports in the months of July, August and September surpassing the 500,000 bags mark. The increase is the highest since 1991.

In July, Uganda saw the highest increase in coffee exports since the liberalisation of Uganda’s coffee industry in 1991.

A total of 543,251 60 kg bags of coffee valued at US$ 49.78 mil-lion were exported in July 2020. In August, Uganda exported a total of 519,683 60 kg bags of coffee valued at US$ 46.06 million. A total of 506,470 60 kg bags of coffee valued at US$ 44.64 million were exported in September 2020.

The increase in export volumes is a direct result of deliberate efforts undertaken by UCDA to increase coffee production in the country.

In 2014, UCDA embarked on a countrywide drive to replant coffee in the country in order to revive coffee production that had stagnated at 3.5 million bags. UCDA worked with several stakeholders including the National Coffee Research Institute (NaCO-RI) to multiply coffee seedlings and Operation Wealth Creation to distribute free seedlings to farmers across the country.

In 2017, coffee exports jumped from 3.5 million bags to 4.7 million bags and the growth trend has continued. Coffee exports for the coffee year (October 2019 to September 2020) totalled to 5,360,859 bags worth US512.23 million compared to 4,439,808 bags worth US$ 433.95 million the previous year. This represents 21% and 18% increase in quantity and value respectively. If the trajectory continues, Uganda will meet the 20M target set out in the coffee road map.

Q&A: UCDA MD Reveals How The Authority Intends To Make Uganda Coffee More Competitive, Profitable

n an exclusive Q&A interview, Dr. Emmanuel  Iyamulemye, the Managing Director of Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) responded to a wide range of issues concerning the coffee sub-sector and revealed plans to make Uganda coffee more competitive and profitable.

Q: UCDA has registered several achievements over the last five years under your leadership. What would you say are the major achievements for the coffee sub sector in this period?

A: As you have said, the Authority under my leadership has achieved a lot in the last five years. I must say it has been a team effort.

When I joined UCDA in 2016, there was a target of increasing coffee production to 20 million 60kg bags by 2025. I can report that we have seen coffee production increase from 4.2 million 60kg bags in FY 2015/16 to 8.06 million bags in FY 2020/21 while coffee exports have increased from 3.6 million 60kg bags in FY 2015/16 to 6.1 million 60kg bags in FY 2020/21. That’s no mean achievement for the industry. The coffee production and export figures recorded in FY 2020/21 were the highest ever. This is mainly attributed to the planting of new coffee trees. Cumulatively, 1.167bn coffee seedlings were generated and distributed between FY 2015/16 and FY 2020/21.

I thank the President for consistently encouraging people to plant coffee to improve household incomes.  

To ensure that only quality coffee is produced, UCDA continuously sensitizes nursery operators. We developed for them training manuals on how to produce quality seedlings and this has greatly increased coffee production countrywide. Our target is to have at least one certified nursery operator in every sub-county to make seedlings more easily available to farmers.

UCDA is working with National Coffee Research Institute (NaCORI) to develop high-yielding and wilt-resistant coffee varieties.

To date, 10 varieties (KR1-10) have been developed and more are in the pipeline. We now have new Arabica varieties as well that are drought tolerant and high yielding.

Over the past five years, We have been sensitizing the public on the profitability of coffee as a business. For example, with a one hectare farm (approximately 2.5 acres of coffee), one can make a minimum of Shs20m annually which would change the fortunes of a household.

We have also established strategic partnerships with cultural institutions, religious institutions, district local governments, Uganda Development Bank and Uganda Prisons Services. We also revamped the International Women’s Coffee Alliance – Uganda Chapter to get more women in coffee because they are key in households.

With regards to sustainable coffee production, we have built capacity among the youth to trade brew and roast coffee.

We are now running a campaign on the rehabilitation of old coffee trees to increase production and productivity. To encourage farmers to stump their coffee trees, we have given them fertilizers but this is a one-off intervention to demonstrate how stumped coffee trees can be productive.

We have also promoted Uganda coffee in new markets. For example, we set up a coffee promotion office in Guangzhou, China in 2016 and since that time we have developed a coffee promotion strategy specifically for China. This is important for us because coffee consumption in China is growing at 15% annually compared to the global average of 2.5%. In addition, we partnered with the British High Commission to help Uganda Coffee enter the UK market. We have partnerships with Uganda’s foreign missions with commercial attachés. We want to maintain our key markets specifically Italy, Germany and Spain but we also want to go beyond.  We want to embark on aggressive marketing. We have partnered with the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) of the United States to develop the various profiles of coffee from different parts of Uganda because each region has its own unique taste.

The National Coffee Act 2021 is a landmark achievement for us. When UCDA was established in 1991, our mandate was on quality at pre-export but the new law allows us to regulate and promote quality of all on-farm and off-farm activities along the coffee value chain.

Q: The National Coffee Act has been hailed as a game changer. What are UCDA’s focus areas in as far as implementation of the law is concerned?

A: This Act gives UCDA powers to regulate all on-farm and off-farm activities in the coffee value chain.

The Act repealed the UCDA Act, Cap. 325, which was enacted in 1991 and only covered off-farm activities of marketing and processing, leaving on-farm activities like planting materials, nurseries, harvesting and post-harvest handling outside the scope of the law. We are right now focusing on sensitization of coffee stakeholders about this new law ahead of registration of farmers because once we have a farmer’s register, we shall have a traceability system that will make it easy to link farmers to the markets. It will also be easy for us to disseminate information to them. It also helps us in our planning; to know the number of old coffee trees and the pests and diseases that are prevalent in various areas.

We started by recruiting Parish Coffee Development Advisors. We are identifying lead farmers in parishes who will help in the registration of farmers once we have a platform that will capture all key variables about farmers.

Farmer organizations are also a key focus area for us. We have an MOU with Uganda Cooperative Alliance to professionalize cooperatives and farmer organizations. Picking from the Coffee Roadmap, our target is to grow coffee farmers in cooperatives from about 25% to 85%.  We want to understand the needs of the existing farmer organisations and support smallholder farmers to get organized.

Q: What should coffee stakeholders (nursery operators, farmers, traders, exporters, café owners, processors, factory owners, roasters) expect from the Authority in the next five years?

A: We are focusing on agro-processing. With support from Government, we want to have a soluble plant in the next five years through a public-private partnership. We are working with Uganda Development Corporation to ensure that this is achieved. This will increase value addition to our coffee.

It would also be good if we established a packaging plant in Uganda because most of the packaging materials come from China and Kenya. The plant may not be exclusive to coffee but can serve other industries.

We are also positioning ourselves as producers of specialty and fine coffees. With high-quality/premium coffee, our coffee will market itself and fetch higher prices.

Q: There are concerns that farmers aren’t benefiting much from the increasing coffee exports. There are arguments that middlemen and largely foreign-owned companies are the ones benefiting at the expense of farmers. What are your thoughts about these concerns? How best can farmers get better prices?

A: Incidentally, there are many countries coming to benchmark on Uganda. The money that goes to the farmer is about 75% of the export price. The rest is divided among the middleman, the transporter and the exporter. However, we shouldn’t be celebrating about that price of green coffee. Our focus should be to have a big chunk of coffee exported as roast and ground coffee. That’s where the money is.

Q: What else is UCDA doing to promote coffee value addition across the coffee value chain?

A: Value addition is broad. Even quality is value addition; if you harvest ripe cherries and dry it well on tarpaulins or raised trellis, you are adding value to your coffee. The price you’ll get will be higher. We want more farmers selling Fair Average Quality coffee (kase) rather than kiboko (dry cherries). This can be achieved if milling the coffee is done at a subsidized cost and this is a process we are working on.

We have stepped up our efforts in coffee extension and training to advise farmers on the best practices to produce, harvest and process their coffee and add value to it.

At the tertiary level, we have procured wet mills to support small and medium farmers to process their Arabica coffee into parchment which fetches higher prices than red cherries. We also are building roasting and brewing capacity.

Q: UCDA has been promoting domestic coffee consumption over the past 10 or so years? What progress have you made? What plans do you have to increase consumption?

A: We have made good progress in coffee consumption. We have generally been a tea drinking country but that’s changing. Many people are appreciating the health benefits of drinking coffee. There’s a big mindset change. We are demystifying misconceptions that associate coffee with bad health. We have also trained youth in roasting and barista skills. There are so many coffee shops in every corner of Kampala and other upcountry cities and towns.  We have now procured a promotional van. It’s under fabrication, fitting in brewing machines. It will be a moving kitchen and it will help us sensitive people on how to brew and drink coffee for health benefits. We also want to ensure that the baristas we have trained end up in cafes not roasteries. Young people are appreciating coffee drinking. We now have coffee clubs in most public universities.

Q: Farmers are facing many challenges including the Black Coffee Twig Borer and climate change among others. How do you intend to support them going forward?

A: It is true we received reports from farmers that some of their coffee trees were drying. In partnership with NaCORI, we carried out a study to establish the cause. We discovered that some of the trees had been attacked by the Coffee Wilt Disease and others by the Black Coffee Twig Borer. We are now trying to establish the magnitude of the problem as we plan to massively sensitize farmers on how to handle the challenge at hand. We are also looking at how Government can support farmers by, for example, waiving some taxes on key imported chemicals or providing the required chemicals to farmers at subsidized rates. We will also engage financial institutions to consider developing some input packages including fertilizers and affordable irrigation packages.

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Coffee stakeholders welcome Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye’s reappointment as UCDA Managing Director

Coffee stakeholders have welcomed the reappointment of Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye as Managing Director at Uganda Coffee Development Authority. Stakeholders applauded Dr. Iyamulemye’s appointment as the right decision to ensure that the gains made by the Authority and the coffee sector over the years are sustained.

 This was during a meeting to discuss the National Coffee Act 2021 and the progress of the implementation of the Coffee Roadmap held at Protea Hotel Kampala Skyz in Naguru.

 The stakeholder meeting was called for to engage coffee stakeholders and seek their views on the National Coffee Act 2021 that was assented to by H.E the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on August 31, 2021, and the Coffee Roadmap that sets a production target of 20m bags of coffee by 2025. 

 The meeting was presided over by Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF). Other dignitaries included Hon. Lt. Col (Rtd) Bright Rwamirama, Minister of State for Animal Industry, Hon. Fred Bwino Kyakulaga, Minister of State for Agriculture, Maj. Gen. Kasura Kyomukama, the Permanent Secretary, MAAIF, Amb. Solomon Rutega, the Inter-African Coffee Organisation Secretary General, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Janet Okori Moe, the head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, Dr. Ezra Suruma, UCDA Board members and key players in the private sector.

 “I take this opportunity to congratulate Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye on his reappointment as the Managing Director of Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA). We have no doubt that he will continue to serve the sub-sector with the same passion he did over the last five years,” noted Hon. Kyakulaga.

 Under the leadership of Dr. Iyamulemye (2016 to 2021), the coffee sector attained notable achievements at both the national and global levels.  

 Dr. Charles Mugoya, the Chairman of the UCDA Board applauded Dr. Iyamulemye for his leadership and noted that the Board’s tenure starts at a time when Uganda’s coffee is making a great comeback. 

 “I am happy that our tenure starts when the Uganda Coffee story is in its prime. Over the past year, Uganda has attained numerous milestones. Taken together, these milestones are an indication of the great effort made by the different actors in the coffee value chain including the farmers, processors, exporters, traders, roasters, and the leadership of UCDA,” Dr. Mugoya said. 

 Over the past year, Uganda has attained numerous milestones and seen the sector thrive despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • In 2020, Uganda was ranked 3rd country with the best coffee globally by independent specialists who cupped blind samples from different origins.
  • In July 2020, Uganda’s monthly coffee exports surpassed 500,000 60-kg bags for the first time. The volumes of coffee exports have kept rising and peaked at 700,250 bags worth US$ 70 million in July 2021. 
  • UCDA launched a countrywide campaign to stump old coffee trees and distribute organic fertilizers to farmers using farmer organizations/cooperatives as an entry point
  • UCDA has entered into a formal partnership with religious and cultural institutions to expand the acreage of coffee countrywide. The Catholic and Anglican Churches are rapidly setting up coffee farms for income generation.  
  • This year, UCDA partnered with the British High Commission to implement a campaign to raise awareness of our value-added coffee and promote it to retailers and supermarkets in the UK.
  • This year, Uganda overtook India as a leading supplier of coffee to Italy and behind only Brazil.
  • The National Coffee Act 2021 was passed by Parliament and assented to by H.E The President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni this year.

 Dr. Ezra Suruma, Head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit and a key architect of the Roadmap noted that the achievements of UCDA especially pushing the production figure to the current 8 million bags was no mean achievement. 

 “I expected that after the liberalization of the coffee sector in 1990, coffee production would go up significantly. I was disappointed. However, today, when I hear that we have gone to 8m bags, this is not a small achievement," Dr. Suruma noted.

 For a long time, Uganda’s coffee production had stagnated at 3.5 million bags but after interventions initiated by the Authority and other stakeholders such as Operation Wealth Creation, National Coffee Research Institute, cultural and religious institutions, coffee production and exports have risen. 

 The UCDA October report shows that coffee exports for 12 months (November 2020 - October 2021) totaled 6.55 million bags worth US 657.23 million compared to 5.41 million bags worth US$ 513.79 million the previous year (November 2019- October 2020). This represents an increase of 21% and 28% in both quantity and value respectively.

 Private players asked Dr. Iyamulemye to continue steering the Authority forward and promised to rally behind him to maintain this upward trend and consolidate the gains in the sector.

 About Iyamulemye

 Emmanuel Iyamulemye Niyibigira is an agricultural scientist (Ph.D., MBA), with over 15 years of experience in agriculture-related programme design and delivery.

His core competencies are in strategic planning, and programme management, reviews, and evaluations; his technical background and competencies are agriculture, agribusiness, rural development, crop protection, import, and export risk analysis, sanitary and phytosanitary issues.

 Before joining UCDA, he was the National Programme Coordinator for the EU-funded Northern Uganda Agriculture Livelihoods Recovery Programme (ALREP) and the Karamoja Livelihoods Programme (KALIP), in the Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda. He was also Programme Manager, FAO – October 2008 to July 2010.

 He holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Agricultural Sciences from Wageningen University, and a Master’s degree, Crop Science from the same University.

 He also holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Uganda Martyrs University.

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