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UCDA Gives 35 Coffee Wet Mills Worth Shs2.2bn To Arabica Farmers In A Move To Increase Specialty Volumes

L-R: State Minister for Agriculture, Fred Bwino, Robert Mwesigye-Technical Extension Manager at UCDA and UCDA MD, Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye inspecting the wet processing equipment

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries through Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) has given Coffee Wet Processing Equipment (wet mills) to Arabica-coffee farmers across the country so as to increase specialty coffee volumes and earn premium prices.

Officiating at the launch of the distribution of the wet mills to the selected beneficiaries in Kampala on Thursday, Fred Bwino Kyakulaga , the State Minister for Agriculture, said currently there are only 18 commercial wet mills in Uganda as compared to dry mills which are over 850.

 

He noted that there’s need to scale up wet processing to produce commercial volumes in Arabica and Robusta growing areas so as to attract good premium prices.

Bwino added that the main objective of procuring the 35 wet processing equipment is to increase the number of wet mills and enhance coffee farmers’ income through value addition by increasing production of high quality coffee.

The Minister further revealed that most of Uganda’s coffee is processed and marketed in natural form and as a result, it misses out on the premium prices that it would otherwise attain if it was produced as washed and specialty coffees.

“For instance, one (1) kg of natural Arabica (dry Uganda Arabica) coffee fetches Shs14,000 while 1kg of washed Arabica coffee fetches Shs18,000,” Bwino said, adding: “These wet mills will therefore, increase the production of premium coffee which in turn will enhance incomes of coffee farmers.”

Representatives of beneficiaries in a group photo after receiving their wet processing equipment

Considering the fact that majority of the farmers are in rural areas with limited access to the national electricity power grid, 30 of the wet processing equipment given to farmers are engine-driven to cater for farmers and groups in hard to reach areas of Kween, Lamwo, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Buhweju, Kanungu and Kisoro that have all benefited from the programme.

The Minister called upon farmers and farmer groups who have benefited from this Government intervention to utilize the machines optimally to satisfy their processing needs and also those of the farmer communities around them.

“Government has invested Shs2.2bn in the coffee wet processing equipment and UCDA must keep monitoring the beneficiaries so that the wet mills are not misused. Stick to the objectives for which the machines were procured,” he said.

In FY 2020/21, Uganda earned US$ 559 million from 6.1 million 60-kilo bags.

“Placing substantial investment in the coffee sub-sector will be a game-changer for the country and the 1.8 million households who benefit from coffee directly,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye, the Managing Director at UCDA, said UCDA in collaboration with Local Governments went through a transparent rigorous process to select the beneficiaries.

He noted that many more farmer groups and cooperatives qualified to get the wet mills but since the funds available weren’t enough, the Coffee Authority first considered the most qualified.

He added that within two months, all the wet processing equipment will be installed and operational.

“This is a conditional allocation from Government and if the machines are not used properly, we shall take them back,” Iyamulemye said, urging beneficiaries to allow other farmers to use the equipment at no extra fee apart from operational costs.

A farmer (Left) receives a wet processing equipment from Minister Fred Bwino

Alfred Boyo, a director at Masha Coffee, who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries, expressed gratitude to UCDA and MAAIF for availing wet mills to farmers, noting that they will handle them with care and make the best use out of them.

He added that the Government should also consider investing more in secondary processing by making available relevant equipment like roasters and grinders.

The machines were procured from SCOGEM Enterprises Ltd. The big five wet processing equipment use electricity power and have the capacity to process 1,200 kgs of cherry per hour each, while the 30 small equipment use petrol and have capacity to process 800kgs of cherry per hour each.

The 35 wet processing equipment UCDA gave out to farmers

Walter Upoki Umika, the Managing Director at SCOGEM Enterprises Ltd, said all the machines are full coffee washing equipment and can do pulping, sorting, flotation, mucilage removal and have the flexibility to do honey coffee.

The smaller machines cost Shs40m each while the bigger ones cost about Shs220m each.

Taddewo William Senyonyi
https://www.facebook.com/senyonyi.taddewo
William is a seasoned business and finance journalist. He is also an agripreneur and a coffee enthusiast.

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