UCDA Managing Director, Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye Niyibigira
Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) is doing everything possible to ensure that Uganda’s coffee attracts a premium price globally.
This has been revealed by UCDA Managing Director, Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye Niyibigira in an interview.
Iyamulemye says as Uganda pushes to produce 20m 60kg bags by 2030, the main focus is on producing the best coffee in terms of quality in order to attract a premium price. Uganda’s coffee is ranked 3rd globally in terms of quality according to the Coffee Quality Institute.
The UCDA boss says Uganda’s focus is not to beat Brazil as the leading coffee exporter, but rather fetch a premium price on all Ugandan coffee exported.
“Our ambition is not exports per se. Our ambition is to have maximum out of the coffee production that we have. If a farmer can increase productivity per tree, if a farmer can increase productivity per acre, if a trader can increase the amount through the quality that he has bought, that will make us much more money. That’s the direction we are looking at; having speciality coffee and fine coffees that attract a premium price,” Iyamulemye says.
It should be noted that Uganda is the birth place of Robusta; 80% of Uganda’s coffee output is Robusta and 20% Arabica.
“We have fine Robustas of high quality because of the good altitude,” Iyamulemye says, adding: “Whatever we export should attract a premium price.”
Domestic Coffee Consumption
He adds that UCDA is also looking at increasing local consumption through sensitization about the health benefits of drinking coffee.
“UCDA has a domestic coffee consumption strategy. We want coffee consumed at the household level, not only in offices and cafes. This is the direction that we are taking; we are right now constructing a coffee learning hub in Jinja. This is aimed at professionalizing the coffee industry.”
He adds that UCDA will also set up a similar facility in Mbarara to serve Western Uganda.
“For Central, we already have a coffee training hub/laboratory in Kampala. We are also doing a lot of sensitization through coffee shows which take to the villages and the farmers so that people appreciate coffee more,” Iyamulemye says.
He adds that UCDA is partnering with medical processionals to demystify wrong perceptions about coffee consumption.
“There’s a misconception that coffee is used to make bullets which is not true. There are coffee shops in every corner in London, China and other big cities. They are definitely drinking this coffee….we know that coffee helps on diseases of liver, kidney and the heart. I want to tell Ugandans that drinking three cups of coffee a day makes you healthy and happier. I’m not just saying it but there’s a science behind it,” he says.
Iyamulemye reveals that from 2015/16 Financial Year, Government through UCDA has distributed over 1.2bn seedlings to farmers free of charge. This intervention has seen Uganda’s coffee production increase exponentially.
Uganda’s Coffee exports hit an all-time high in March 2021 as 572,839 60kg bags were exported in a single month, the highest in the past 30 years.
“We have penetrated deeper markets and are getting better prices. Italy is one of the biggest importers of Robusta and Uganda has since displaced India as the leading coffee exporter to Italy,” he says.
He adds that UCDA has embarked on partnerships with district local governments, religious and cultural institutions aimed at increasing coffee production.
He says as UCDA celebrates 30 years of existence, the coffee Authority has developed a Coffee Road Map which set a target of delivering 20m 60kg bags by 2030.
“We are on track to achieve it,” he says, adding that UCDA has also revised the coffee law which has been in existence since 1991.
“The coffee bill was passed and is now before the President for assent,” he says.
He says the new law will ensure traceability.
“The coffee bill is looking at on-farm and off farm activities. This will make Uganda’s coffee the best because quality will be guaranteed. UCDA will be licensing everybody in the coffee value chain apart from the farmer. This will ensure traceability through farmer registration,” he says.
The UCDA boss adds that in their mandate, they support coffee research through National Coffee Research Institute.
“They have state of the art lab that will help them detect diseases and multiply wilt resistant plantlets,” he says, adding that the coffee research institute has developed high yielding coffee varieties that are resistant to coffee wilt. He notes that the multiplication of KR 8, 9 and 10 is ongoing but encourages farmers to plant the already available KR1-7 plantlets.