The Government Chief Whip, Hon. Hamson Obua has pledged to work with UCDA to promote coffee growing in non-traditional coffee-growing regions such as the Lango sub-region in northern Uganda in a bid to support farmers switch from subsistence to commercial agriculture.
Hon. Obua made the remarks during a visit he made to the UCDA coffee laboratory earlier today.
“I want to thank the Managing Director (Dr. Iyamulemye) who came to my office to congratulate me upon my appointment but also to interest me in coffee. I come from a non-traditional coffee-growing area that is Lango which is comprised of 9 districts. I committed to the MD to hold the bull by the horns and start to promote coffee,” he said.
UCDA has a programme to promote coffee growing in Northern Uganda. The programme is part of the initiatives introduced by the Authority to increase coffee production to 20 million bags by 2025, as per the Coffee Roadmap. Once achieved, the country will earn up to USD 2.2 billion per year through exports.
“I want to take the lead for Lango. I am ready to mobilise the farmers. I will talk to the farmers about coffee on the radio, in meetings, and in other spaces,” Hon. Obua said. “We need to transform the country and, one of the transformational agendas is growing coffee including introducing it in non-traditional areas.”
He added that the biggest promoter of coffee in the country is H.E President Yoweri Museveni.
“I want to tell you that the biggest promoter, the biggest marketer of coffee in the country is H.E the President, because on several occasions when he talks about the 4-acre model and the list of enterprises (for households to take on), coffee is priority number one,” Obua said.
Hon. Obua added that he intends to start growing coffee on a small scale after the inspiration and motivation for the President.
The President has called on Ugandans who want to move from subsistence to commercial agriculture to apportion some of their land to coffee. Under the 4-acre model, the President has recommended farmers dedicate one acre to coffee.
In 2018, the President launched a 4-acre demo farm at Barlegi in Otuke district where farmers could go and learn about coffee growing. One acre is dedicated to coffee.
“Why should we have coffee only at the President’s demo farm in Otuke and even people around Otuke are not growing coffee?” Obua wondered. He added that efforts to popularize coffee must be enhanced.
More farmers are embracing coffee growing as evidenced by the growth in export volumes. Coffee exports for 12 months (August 2021- July 2022) totaled 6.14 million bags worth US$ 875.95 million. This is the highest amount Uganda has ever earned from coffee in a single year.
According to Dr. Iyamulemye, between 17% to19% of Uganda’s foreign exchange comes from coffee. The Authority has built a robust laboratory to ensure Uganda continues to export high-quality coffee to buyers globally.
Uganda coffee is very popular in the USA, Europe, Japan, and the Middle East and there is a growing demand among African countries.
“Our coffee is number three in the world and given its quality, it is highly sought after. We follow stringent protocols here in the lab to ensure we export coffee that meets the standards of the buyers,” Dr. Iyamulemye said.
Ms. Doreen Rweihangwe, the Director Quality and Regulatory Services at UCDA told Hon. Obua that UCDA has 25 inspectors who do physical grading, roasting, and sensory analysis of coffee samples before shipment to the final destination.
“Uganda is where Robusta coffee originates and the protocols for evaluating Robusta coffee were developed in this laboratory. The UCDA coffee lab is internationally recognized and held in high regard,” Ms. Rweihangwe said.
She added that UCDA registers coffee sales and carries out pre-shipment inspections for all coffee leaving the country.
“We run stringent tests in the laboratory. This is why UCDA has been able to avoid product recalls and rejects that have affected other sectors. This is because of our stringent adherence to standards.” Rweihangwe added.
The USA is a popular destination for Uganda’s Arabica coffee while Europe is the biggest importer of Uganda’s Robusta coffee.
Hon. Obua noted that two weeks ago, while out of the country with team Uganda at the World Athletic Championships in Oregon, the discussions were not complete without talk about Uganda coffee, implying that it is an excellent product that has captured the attention of the world.