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Coffee Sector Mobilizes Donations For Vulnerable Poor Of COVID-19 Pandemic

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, President Yoweri Museveni instituted a National Taskforce team headed by Rt Hon Prime Minister to oversee all the  donations to be given towards government to boost its efforts of combating COVID19 in the country by donating food and other items towards people made vurnerable due by COVID-19.

In the spirit of standing together with the government, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) has mobilized the stakeholders in the coffee industry to donate food  and other essential items for the vulnerable poor who survive on daily earnings. With the current lockdown, they are unable to earn a living and are likely to go without food. Their situation likely worsened during the lock down period.

On 1st May, the key stakeholders in the coffee industry led by Hon. Vincent Sempijja, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries handed over a number of items to the head of the task force, Hon. Mary Karooro Okurut. The items include a total of Shs 142,800,000 as of 1 May in cash and two 4-WD Pickup vehicles as per H.E. the President’s appeal.

In addition, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority contributed 2,000 packs of ground Uganda coffee for the frontline staff in the fight against the pandemic. Earlier, Kaweri Coffee Plantation, the largest coffee plantation in Uganda owned by the Neuman Gruppe, delivered 5 tons of beans and 7 tons of maize to the RDC’s office in Mubende District, Ankole Coffee Producers Co-op Union Ltd (ACPCU) located in Sheema district in South West Uganda, donated 15 million to the national taskforce, and 12 million to the district taskforces for fuel to  take women in labour to hospital in the districts of Shema, Bushenyi, Mitooma, Rubirizi, Rwampara, Buhweju, Ibanda, kiruhura, Mbarara, Ntungamo and Kazo, where the cooperative buys coffee.

UCDA is a statutory organisation established to develop, promote and regulate the Coffee sub-sector in Uganda by supporting research, promoting production, controlling the quality and improving the marketing of coffee in order to optimise foreign exchange earnings for the country and payments to farmers.

The coffee stakeholders have received support from the government during the lockdown by providing stickers for vehicles of the critical staff and availing coffee quality staff to inspect and certify the coffee for export. The president’s directive allowed factories to continue operating during the quarantine period.  Despite the lockdown, the coffee sector registered high exports. According to the coffee report for March 2020, coffee exports totaled 477,561 bags worth US$ 45.87 million.

This was an increase of 38.39% and 35.72% in quantity and value respectively compared to March 2019 when 345,085 bags worth US$ 33.79 million were exported. Exports for 9 months (July 2019 -March 2020) were 3.9 million bags valued at $376.60 compared to 4.1 million bags valued at $320.21 million in the same period last year, which was an increase of 22.3% in quantity and 17.6% in value.

However the sector is expected to experience challenges in exports and low prices in the post-corona era as the leading importers of Uganda coffee especially Italy, Spain and Germany have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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