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UCDA hires expatriates to teach Ugandans how best to consume coffee

Masaka, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda is now hiring coffee and health professionals to sensitise nationals on the benefits of consuming coffee. This is one of the steps being taken to ensure that the country, and especially the farmers earn more from their coffee.

Uganda is Africa’s largest coffee exporter but earns less than Ethiopia in revenues per unit. This is because Ethiopia processes most of the coffee it produces and, although it sells most of it locally, it fetches more. Uganda’s bid is now to ensure that as it increases local consumption of the commodity.

In some instances, any process done on the coffee beans doubles its value, but instant or ready to drink coffee fetches much more, according to available figures.

The cleaned coffee, technically known as Fair Average Quality, costs between 3,900 and 4,200 Shillings a kilo, which is more than double the cost of uncleaned coffee beans locally called Kiboko.However, a cup of coffee drink costs between 3,000 and 6,000 Shillings in a coffee shop.

The government thinks that as more Ugandans demand a coffee drink, it will encourage more processing, and lead to the export of more processed coffee than unprocessed, which in turn will earn the farmers and the country more. However, the coffee sector is finding it hard to encourage Ugandans, including coffee farmers to adopt to coffee drinking, saying Ugandans are traditional consumers of tea.

Many cite health effects, and it is for this reason, that the government has decided to hire expatriates to tell of the health benefits of coffee as a drink, according to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority Managing Director, Emmanuel Iyamuremye.

He says they are also taking the campaigns to schools to ensure the coffee culture among the younger Ugandans.

“We’re first demystifying the myth that coffee makes people not to have sleep. So we have started a process where we bring experts from abroad who are medical people so that they explain that coffee actually has health benefits. We’re now coming to the institutions where we have formed university clubs and secondary schools where they appreciate that coffee is a good drink. Lastly, we’re looking at how we can promote roasting in the country. We have been training youths, barristers how to serve a good cup of coffee. We have helped to generate many cafes around the corners of Kampala but also upcountry you see the coffee culture coming up,” Iyamuremye said.

Uganda exported 5.2 million 60 kilogram bags last coffee year, the highest volumes exported in a year since 1991 and earned the country close to USD 500 million. Most of this was exported in July and August, a surprising development that this was during the COVID-19 induced lockdown.

This gives more hope that the country will attain the 10-year strategy aimed at exporting 20 million bags by 2025 or 2030.

The Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja says Uganda’s coffee is also gaining market and has taken over the Italian market from India. He, however, says that had it not been for the pandemic which paralyzed some activities like transportation to some countries and delays at borders, the coffee industry would have performed much better.

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