Coffee stakeholders welcome Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye’s reappointment as UCDA Managing Director

Coffee stakeholders have welcomed the reappointment of Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye as Managing Director at Uganda Coffee Development Authority. Stakeholders applauded Dr. Iyamulemye’s appointment as the right decision to ensure that the gains made by the Authority and the coffee sector over the years are sustained.

 This was during a meeting to discuss the National Coffee Act 2021 and the progress of the implementation of the Coffee Roadmap held at Protea Hotel Kampala Skyz in Naguru.

 The stakeholder meeting was called for to engage coffee stakeholders and seek their views on the National Coffee Act 2021 that was assented to by H.E the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on August 31, 2021, and the Coffee Roadmap that sets a production target of 20m bags of coffee by 2025. 

 The meeting was presided over by Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF). Other dignitaries included Hon. Lt. Col (Rtd) Bright Rwamirama, Minister of State for Animal Industry, Hon. Fred Bwino Kyakulaga, Minister of State for Agriculture, Maj. Gen. Kasura Kyomukama, the Permanent Secretary, MAAIF, Amb. Solomon Rutega, the Inter-African Coffee Organisation Secretary General, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Janet Okori Moe, the head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, Dr. Ezra Suruma, UCDA Board members and key players in the private sector.

 “I take this opportunity to congratulate Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye on his reappointment as the Managing Director of Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA). We have no doubt that he will continue to serve the sub-sector with the same passion he did over the last five years,” noted Hon. Kyakulaga.

 Under the leadership of Dr. Iyamulemye (2016 to 2021), the coffee sector attained notable achievements at both the national and global levels.  

 Dr. Charles Mugoya, the Chairman of the UCDA Board applauded Dr. Iyamulemye for his leadership and noted that the Board’s tenure starts at a time when Uganda’s coffee is making a great comeback. 

 “I am happy that our tenure starts when the Uganda Coffee story is in its prime. Over the past year, Uganda has attained numerous milestones. Taken together, these milestones are an indication of the great effort made by the different actors in the coffee value chain including the farmers, processors, exporters, traders, roasters, and the leadership of UCDA,” Dr. Mugoya said. 

 Over the past year, Uganda has attained numerous milestones and seen the sector thrive despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • In 2020, Uganda was ranked 3rd country with the best coffee globally by independent specialists who cupped blind samples from different origins.
  • In July 2020, Uganda’s monthly coffee exports surpassed 500,000 60-kg bags for the first time. The volumes of coffee exports have kept rising and peaked at 700,250 bags worth US$ 70 million in July 2021. 
  • UCDA launched a countrywide campaign to stump old coffee trees and distribute organic fertilizers to farmers using farmer organizations/cooperatives as an entry point
  • UCDA has entered into a formal partnership with religious and cultural institutions to expand the acreage of coffee countrywide. The Catholic and Anglican Churches are rapidly setting up coffee farms for income generation.  
  • This year, UCDA partnered with the British High Commission to implement a campaign to raise awareness of our value-added coffee and promote it to retailers and supermarkets in the UK.
  • This year, Uganda overtook India as a leading supplier of coffee to Italy and behind only Brazil.
  • The National Coffee Act 2021 was passed by Parliament and assented to by H.E The President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni this year.

 Dr. Ezra Suruma, Head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit and a key architect of the Roadmap noted that the achievements of UCDA especially pushing the production figure to the current 8 million bags was no mean achievement. 

 “I expected that after the liberalization of the coffee sector in 1990, coffee production would go up significantly. I was disappointed. However, today, when I hear that we have gone to 8m bags, this is not a small achievement," Dr. Suruma noted.

 For a long time, Uganda’s coffee production had stagnated at 3.5 million bags but after interventions initiated by the Authority and other stakeholders such as Operation Wealth Creation, National Coffee Research Institute, cultural and religious institutions, coffee production and exports have risen. 

 The UCDA October report shows that coffee exports for 12 months (November 2020 - October 2021) totaled 6.55 million bags worth US 657.23 million compared to 5.41 million bags worth US$ 513.79 million the previous year (November 2019- October 2020). This represents an increase of 21% and 28% in both quantity and value respectively.

 Private players asked Dr. Iyamulemye to continue steering the Authority forward and promised to rally behind him to maintain this upward trend and consolidate the gains in the sector.

 About Iyamulemye

 Emmanuel Iyamulemye Niyibigira is an agricultural scientist (Ph.D., MBA), with over 15 years of experience in agriculture-related programme design and delivery.

His core competencies are in strategic planning, and programme management, reviews, and evaluations; his technical background and competencies are agriculture, agribusiness, rural development, crop protection, import, and export risk analysis, sanitary and phytosanitary issues.

 Before joining UCDA, he was the National Programme Coordinator for the EU-funded Northern Uganda Agriculture Livelihoods Recovery Programme (ALREP) and the Karamoja Livelihoods Programme (KALIP), in the Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda. He was also Programme Manager, FAO – October 2008 to July 2010.

 He holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Agricultural Sciences from Wageningen University, and a Master’s degree, Crop Science from the same University.

 He also holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Uganda Martyrs University.

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Uganda not out of ICO, we are negotiating better terms for the country – Agriculture Minister, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze

Uganda did not pull out of the International Coffee Organisation (ICO). Rather, the country is renegotiating the terms of the International Coffee Agreement 2007 to ensure it gets better terms as the leading coffee exporter in Africa and seventh leading exporter in the world. 

 Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Industry and Fisheries, revealed this during a coffee stakeholder dialogue on the National Coffee Act 2021 and the progress of the implementation of the Coffee Roadmap.

“Uganda did not withdraw from ICO. We are engaging with ICO and renegotiating the terms of the International Coffee Agreement 2007. We want to ensure that our concerns as a leading coffee exporter in Africa are addressed. We will share with stakeholders the results of our discussion in a month,” Hon. Frank Tumwebaze told the participants at the event. 

 The International Coffee Agreement 2007 is the seventh Agreement since 1962 and was agreed by the 77 Members of the International Coffee Council who met in London on 28 September 2007. It was formally adopted by the Council through Resolution 431 and entered into force definitively on 2 February 2011. 

 The 2007 Agreement came into force to strengthen the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) role as a forum for intergovernmental consultations, facilitate international trade through increased transparency and access to relevant information, and promote a sustainable coffee economy for the benefit of all stakeholders and particularly of small-scale farmers in coffee-producing countries. 

 The ICO is the main intergovernmental organization for coffee. It brings together exporting and importing countries to tackle the challenges facing the world coffee sector through international cooperation.

 However, some members especially producing countries feel that the terms of the 2007 agreement have not been fair to them and a new agreement should capture their concerns. 

 Speaking at the dialogue, Dr. Charles Mugoya, the Chairman Board of Directors of UCDA noted that ICO should do more to support producing countries like Uganda build capacity in value addition.  

 As Uganda pushes forward with a production target of 20m bags by 2025, it is critical that Uganda coffee gets favourable trade terms to support her industry thrive at both the local and global level.

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UCDA, Uganda Embassy in Moscow, link Russian investors to local coffee stakeholders

11th November 2021, Kampala - Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), in collaboration with the Uganda Embassy in Moscow, hosted a meeting between Russian investors and Uganda coffee exporters. The investors from Russkiy Product, a company from the Russian Federation, are interested in buying Ugandan Robusta coffee to produce instant coffee.

Addressing the exporters at Coffee House, Kampala, H. E. Johnson Olwa, Uganda's Ambassador to the Russian Federation called on them to take advantage of the opportunity of meeting the investors to sell more coffee in Russia.

“The company has a big supply chain of coffee. They buy from several [coffee-producing] countries, including Uganda through third parties but they now want to buy directly from Ugandan producers and exporters,” H. E. Olwa said. H. E. Olwa assured the exporters that Russkiy Produkt, which is located in Kaluga city and Moscow, is a genuine company to work with.

The Director Strategy and Business Development, David Katungi, speaking on behalf of UCDA, said the meeting was a result of several engagements between UCDA, Uganda's foreign missions and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for investments opportunities in the Uganda coffee sub sector.

He thanked H. E. Olwa, for operationalizing this engagement to link the private sector here in Uganda with the business community in Russia.

“UCDA has a responsibility to facilitate these engagements to promote coffee and look for links in foreign markets,” Katungi said.

Katungi also expressed Uganda’s commitment to coffee production and export through its national Coffee Roadmap which targets to produce 20 million 60kg bags of coffee annually by 2025.

“We want to assure you that we have the coffee and we have plans to produce even more. Your choice to do business with Uganda is the right decision. We assure you of volumes and quality,” he said adding that there are several opportunities along the coffee value chain including plans to set up a soluble coffee plant in Uganda as well as roasting and other value addition opportunities. Uganda, he said, is unmatched by any African country in providing the best investment environment and incentives.

Alexsei Pashkiv, co-owner of Russkiy Produkt, told the meeting that they are interested in purchasing Robusta coffee to produce instant coffee in Russia.

“The Russian market consumes instant coffee. Although Russia has traditionally been a tea drinking country, the coffee market is increasing,” Pashkiv said. “We are looking for good suppliers of green coffee for instant coffee production and we need volumes.”

Besides instant coffee, the company produces potato chips, baking mixes and other products. Pashkiv commended the ambassador and UCDA for working tirelessly to create connections between Uganda and Russia and representing the private sector needs in Russia, respectively. Pashkiv was accompanied by two sales colleagues from Russkiy Produkt, Sergei Sharposhnikov and Bugaera Elena.

In her remarks to the exporters, UCDA’s Acting Director Quality and Regulatory Services, Doreen Rweihangwe, recounted the Robusta coffee quality specifications that the investors requested for through the regulator, including the organoleptic and physicochemical properties, safety parameters, packaging, storage and transportation and labeling. The meeting participants discussed the specifications and agreed to have individual (B2B) meetings with the investors to deliberate more on how best they will work together.

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Hon. Frank Tumwebaze tasks the new UCDA Board to ensure good governance, strategy and capacity building to drive performance in the Coffee sub sector

28th October 2021, Entebbe – The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, inaugurated the new Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) Board of Directors in accordance to the National Coffee Act, 2021 that was assented to by H. E the President on 31 August 2021.

Speaking during the inauguration function, Hon. Tumwebaze called on the members to carry out their duties according to good governance principles. He challenged the Board to develop a coffee strategy to ensure the sub sector sustains the growing curve of production and export and, among others, to build capacity at the Authority to improve performance.

The inauguration was held at the Ministry’s Planning Board Room in Entebbe. In attendance were the Minister of State for Agriculture, Hon. Fred Bwino Kyakulaga, the Permanent Secretary, Maj. Gen David Kasura Kyomukama, the Chairman of the Board, Charles Francis Mugoya and Board members Michael Nuwagaba (coffee processors representative), John Nuwagaba (coffee farmers representative), Martha Nalubega Wandera (coffee roasters representative) and Connie Masaba Magomu (MAAIF representative). Other Board members who were not in attendance are Fred Luzinda-Mukasa (coffee exporters representative), Dr. Sadik Kasiim (NARO representative), Maris Wanyera (Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development representative), and Richard Okot Okello (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives representative).

Hon. Kyakulaga welcomed the new Board, urging them to take deliberate steps to boost coffee production and export with specific emphasis on the provision of good planting material, specifically CWDr for the Robusta growing areas.

On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Maj. Gen Kasura advised the Board members to focus on and leverage the opportunities in the sub sector to drive it forward. He pledged total support to the Board and encouraged them to be mindful of the strategic importance of coffee.

The Chairman of the UCDA Board of Directors, Dr. Charles Francis Mugoya, while appreciating that the Board has come in at a time when Uganda has demonstrated high resistance despite COVID 19, said that the Board will take advantage of the environment to boost production and exports to meet the goal of production of 20 million bags by 2025. Dr. Mugoya pledged the Board’s commitment to good governance, provision of value for stakeholders, respect for the environment and preservation of competitiveness in a reliable and safe manner in order to maintain and even exceed the current coffee production status.

The UCDA Board of Directors is industry-based as provided for in the National Coffee Act, 2021 and is a practical demonstration of public-private partnership with representation from nine key stakeholders from Government and the private sector. The UCDA Managing Director is an ex-officio member of the Board. The term of office of a member of the Board is three years and in case of reappointment does not exceed two consecutive terms.

The Board’s mandate is to formulate and review the policy of the Authority, set targets for annual performance of the Authority; appraise and evaluate the performance of the management of the Authority; determine the organisational structure and staffing; oversee the management of the finances and assets of the Authority and appoint and discipline members of staff.

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700k Bags of Coffee Exported in August highest in a single month, earn Uganda Shs265bn

Uganda’s Coffee exports in August 2021 amounted to 700,990 60-kilo bags worth US$ 75.09 million (Shs264.7bn).

This comprised 636,458 bags of Robusta valued at US $65.24 million and 64.532 bags of Arabica valued at US$ 9.85 million.

This was an increase of 34.89% and 63.06 % in quantity and value respectively compared to the same month last year.

By comparing quantity of coffee exported by type in the same month of last Coffee Year (August 2020), Robusta increased by 39% and 70.98% in quantity and value respectively, while Arabica exports increased by 4.44% and 24.80% in quantity and value respectively, the report says.

Increasing Robusta exports during the month compared to the previous year were due to newly planted coffee which started yielding supported by favorable weather. This was also compounded by a positive trend in global coffee prices in the month of July and August as Brazil faced the threat of frost, which prompted exporters to release their stocks.

The modest increase in Arabica coffee exports with a correspondingly high increase in value compared to the same month last year was on account of higher global coffee prices as mentioned above.

Lower Arabica proportion in the export mix is a result of the off-year biennial cycle.”

Coffee exports for the 12 months (September 2020-August 2021) amounted to 6,414,696 60-kilo bags worth US$ 607.81 million compared to 5,216,608-kilo bags valued at US$ 502.24 million the previous year (September 2019-August 2020). This represents 22.97% and 21.02% increase in both quantity and value respectively.

The quantity of coffee exported in August was the highest in a single month surpassing the previous month’s exports, while the total export quantity in 12 months was the highest in 30 years.

Download full report here: www.bit.ly/3lOfEyv  

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Agriculture State Minister applauds UCDA for developments in sub sector

The Minister of State for Agriculture, Hon. Fred Bwino Kyakulaga has applauded the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) for the positive developments in the coffee sub sector. The Minister was meeting UCDA’s management team at Coffee House as part of his orientation in his new posting.

“I am excited because I just learned that 85% of export earnings come from Agriculture. Out of that, coffee is the biggest contributor,” Hon. Kyakulaga said. “[Because of that] a trend of decline in the coffee sector [in the 1990s] has been reversed.”

The Minister commended the UCDA management for their efforts in boosting coffee exports and foreign exchange for the country.

“I have been following in the local press,” Hon. Kyakulaga said. “The story is very exciting and pleasing about the increase in the exports and the revenues the country is getting. The developments in the sector are a great achievement. I am excited to join the team.”

Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye, the Managing Director of UCDA, while welcoming the Minister, informed him that the agency was the first to be established in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.

“We have made the Ministry proud with our performance to date and we are very committed to continue doing so,” Dr. Iyamulemye pledged. “We will not disappoint you. We are happy to provide information and continue to support the Ministry.”

In his presentation, Dr. Iyamulemye outlined UCDA’s mandate, key achievements and challenges and plans to meet its strategic goals. Dr. Iyamulemye revealed that coffee accounts for about 13-15% of total export earnings and is the 2nd highest foreign exchange earner for the country. In addition, Uganda is the 2nd largest coffee producer in Africa and the largest exporter on the continent. Current coffee production stands at 8 million 60kg bags while exports stand at 6.08 million 60kg bags for the year ended 2020/21.

In his closing remarks, Hon. Kyakulaga acknowledged coffee is one of the biggest earners of foreign exchange yet its budget is not commensurate with its requirements for even better performance.

“We shall get back on the table and harmonise this. We shall advocate for correcting that picture. We must feed our cash cow well. If we don’t do that, how do we expect to achieve the targets of the Coffee Roadmap?” Hon. Kyakulaga asked rhetorically. UCDA’s aims to produce 20 million 60kg bags of coffee by 2025.

The Minister expressed his commitment to work with UCDA to address the challenges that the sub sector currently faces and to take the coffee sub sector to the next level.

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Uganda’s Coffee exports in June 2021 amounted to 618,388 60-kilo bags worth US$ 58.56 million, the highest ever in a single month since 1991.

Uganda’s Coffee exports in June 2021 amounted to 618,388 60-kilo bags worth US$ 58.56 million, the highest ever in a single month since 1991.

The UCDA monthly report for June 2021 shows that this comprised 565,449 bags of Robusta valued at US $ 50.25 million and 52,939 bags of Arabica valued at US$ 8.31 million.

This was an increase of 47.04% and 46.63 % in quantity and value respectively compared to the same month last year.

By comparing quantity of coffee exported by type in the same month of last Coffee Year (June 2020), Robusta increased by 63.89% and 72.56% in quantity and value respectively, while Arabica exports decreased in both quantity and value by 29.93% and 23.16% respectively.

Increasing Robusta exports during the month compared to the previous year were due to newly planted coffee which started yielding supported by favourable weather. This was also compounded by a positive trend in global coffee prices in the last two weeks of the month which prompted exporters to release their stocks on top of increased procurement.

The decrease in value of Arabica coffee was due to low volumes exported.

Arabica monthly exports continued to reduce compared to the previous year attributed to the off-year biennial cycle characteristic of Arabica production,” UCDA report reveals.

Coffee exports for the 12 months (Financial year 2020/21) amounted to 6,078,638 60-kilo bags worth US$ 559.26 million compared to 5,105,881-kilo bags valued at US$ 496.28 million the previous year (Financial Year 2019/20).

This represents 19.05% and 12.69% increase in both quantity and value respectively. The total quantity of exports in 12 months was the highest in 30 years.

Exports by Type and Grade

The average export price was US$ 1.58 per kilo, 1 cent lower than US$ 1.59 per kilo realized in May 2021. Robusta exports accounted for 91.44% of total exports higher than 86.91% in May 2021.

The average Robusta price was US$ 1.48 per kilo, 2 cents higher than the previous month. Organic Screen 18 and Organic Screen 15 fetched the highest price of US$ 2.23 per kilo, a premium of 65 and 70 cents over conventional Screen 18 and Screen 15 respectively.

It was followed by Washed Robusta sold at an average price of US$ 1.96 per kilo. The share of Sustainable/washed coffee to total Robusta exports was only 0.46%.

Arabica fetched an average price of US$ 2.62 per kilo, 14 cents higher than in May 2021. The highest price was Mt. Sustainable Arabica Fully Washed Sipi Falls sold at US$ 5.37 per kilo, a premium of 204 cents over conventional Bugisu AA sold at US$ 3.03 per kilo. This was followed by Mt. Elgon PB sold at US$ 4.41 per kilo as a sample. Drugar was sold at US$ 2.64 per kilo, a discount of 69 cents from Bugisu AA. Organic Drugar was sold at US$ 3.88 per kilo, a premium of US $ 1.24 over conventional Drugar. The share of sustainable Arabica exports to total Arabica exports was 3.7%. Drugar exports had a 65% of Arabica exports compared to 56% the previous month.

Coffee Exports By Destination

Italy maintained the highest market share with 34.57% compared with 37.02% last month. It was followed by Germany 13.11% (14.36%), India 9.52% (5.00%) Sudan 7.81% (4.04%) and Algeria 6.28% (5.80%). It’s important to note that the figures in brackets represent percentage market share held in May 2021.

Coffee exports to Africa amounted to 112,416 bags, a market share of 18% compared to 69,349 bags (14%) the previous month. Leading African countries included Sudan, Morocco, Kenya, Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa. Europe remained the main destination for Uganda’s coffees with 61% imports share.

Global Situation

World coffee exports amounted to 9.79 million bags in June 2021 compared to 10.89 million in May 2020. Exports for the first 8 months of coffee year 2020/21 (October 2020-May 2021) increased by 2.2% to 87.3 million bags from 85.38 million bags the previous period (October 2019-May 2020).

The ICO Composite Indicator price increased by 4.6% to 141.03 US compared to 134.78 US cents in May 2021.

The prices have seen a positive trend since October due to an expected reduction in supply in key producing countries.

Global coffee production for 2020/21 is estimated to increase by 0.3% to 169.5 million bags while the consumption is estimated to increase by 1.9% to 167.24 million bags.

Local Situation

During the month of June 2021, farm gate prices ranged from Sh.2,000-2,500/= per kilo of Kiboko (Robusta dry cherries); Shs. 4,200-4,500/= for FAQ; Sh. 6,500-6,800/= for Arabica parchment; and Sh. 5,500-6,000/= per kilo for Drugar from Kasese. Robusta Kiboko averaged UGX 2,250/= per kilo; FAQ UGX 4,350/= per kilo, Arabica parchment UGX 6,650/= per kilo and Drugar UGX 5,750/= per kilo.

Outlook for July 2021

Coffee exports are projected to be 650,000 bags as the main harvesting period in Greater Masaka and South Western regions reaches its peak during the month. Dry weather coupled with some rains will speed up ripening and procurement of the coffee from the countryside.

Increased exports are also likely to be driven by increasing global coffee prices exhibited in the last two weeks of the previous month on account of reduced harvest from Brazil and Vietnam which will stimulate exporters to also release their stocks.

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Uganda Readies Self To Cash-in on China’s Booming Coffee Market

Uganda, like many African countries, suffers from an enormous trade deficit with China. Last year, according to UN figures, Uganda exported just $40 million worth of goods to China but imported more than $1.3 billion in return.

The government is taking measures to address the problem by leveraging one of its most valuable exports - coffee.

In a recent interview with The China Africa Project, Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye, the Managing Director at Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), revealed that “Uganda is coming to China in a big way.”

He revealed that Uganda’s coffee first arrived in China in 2003 through a joint venture with a Chinese company.

“We have learnt lessons over the years; we have just completed a coffee promotions strategy for China. We are looking at how Ugandan coffee can penetrate in China,” Iyamulemye says.

He adds that Uganda’s coffee roadmap of increasing coffee production from 3.5m bags to 20m bags by 2030 has been informed by lessons worldwide in terms of the market.

“For China, we are looking at a structured demand so that we offset the imports deficit by exports,” Iyamulemye reveals, adding: “With bi-lateral agreements, we believe this can happen. This is happening with Tanzania where they are growing cassava to supply starch to Chinese industries.”

Asked how UCDA intends to promote Ugandan coffee without spending much, Iyamulemye said they are looking at online platforms since youth can access internet. Therefore, online advertisement will be key.

He adds that Uganda’s focus is on high quality specialty and fine coffees.

“Our current strategy is threefold; specialty coffee-high end coffees- that means very high-quality premium coffees. That’s on one hand. We have another segment of commercial coffees for the average consumer…We are also looking at roasted and ground coffee which is our main focus so that we benefit the farmer who is producing the coffee,” Iyamulemye says, adding: “If we can have cooperatives or farmer groups which are exporting roasted and ground coffee, it will be very good because money will be coming directly in farmers’ pockets.”

He notes that UCDA is looking at ways of supporting the private sector to penetrate the Chinese market which will give the farmer a good place in the global trade.

“Ugandan coffee is now ranked 3rd globally in terms of quality. We have big volumes so we can consistently supply the Chinese market (unlike some African countries),” he says.

“Even if we are exporting green beans, it should attract a premium price,” he says.

Applying Best Practices

On applying best agronomic practices, Iyamulemye says there’s a national coffee platform where coffee stakeholders share practices and lessons monthly.

“Because of climate change, we have realized shade grown coffee has a particular unique taste. It is also a mitigation to climate change,” he says.

Traditionally, coffee has been intercropped with banana plantain.

“Robusta is grown as forest crop. We are looking at shade trees to intercrop with coffee which comes with unique taste and aroma. We are also looking at productivity per tree, thus stumping, good and post-harvest practices are key. This is increasing production and quality of coffee,” he says.

With the new coffee law which will come into force soon, Iyamulemye says UCDA shall be facilitating farmers, buyers and exporters to increase production and exports whilst applying best practices.  

“We shall be registering farmers for traceability purposes. We also look at certification of organic coffee growers. We want to have Ugandan coffee differentiated as unique in terms of quality and consistency,” he says.

On capturing the China coffee market, the UCDA boss says they are discussing with China to have preferential treatment such as export quotas. “Our coffee shall be in high end coffee markets in China,” he emphasizes.

Farmer & Exporter Speaks Out

Frandan Tumukunde, a farmer and coffee marketing expert with extensive experience in China says the biggest challenge for Ugandan farmers is financing and as such, they are exploited by middlemen who buy coffee cheaply and sell it at exorbitant prices.

“If farmers are financed well, this will be overcome,” Tumukunde, who owns a Ugandan coffee brand that sells Ugandan coffee across Asia, says.

Tumukunde says he is happy that farming practices are improving.

“Uganda is the birth place of Robusta coffee and therefore Ugandan coffee is unique from other African coffees,” he says in reference to Uganda’s comparative advantage.

“Uganda is well placed according to the topography and high altitude because of the Equator; thus, we are producing good quality coffee,” he adds.

He says China has about 500m middle class people which Uganda can take advantage of.

“China is the youngest coffee market. Chinese have been drinking teas but are now shifting to drinking coffee,” he says.

He urges Ugandans especially the youth to grow more coffee and employ the best agronomic practices.

“Youth should take on coffee farming because the market is huge…China-Africa cooperation is good. If they can extend finance to the farmers, it will be good and kick out middlemen,” he says.

Increasing coffee exports to China

Uganda is looking to China to help quintuple the volume of coffee exports over the next five years. While that may sound ambitious, it may actually be achievable thanks to the surging demand for coffee in China’s largest and wealthiest cities.

China’s coffee market is estimated at US$11.5bn in annual sales and is expected to grow by 10% in the next five years.

Additionally, Coffee consumption in China is growing at between 15%-20% annually.  China is also Starbucks’ second largest market after the US.

Starbucks operates 4200 stores in China and plans to open up more 1800 stores in the next two years. 

Analysts say most of this growth is happening in tier one cities but inland cities (tier two/three cities) are yet to embrace coffee drinking.

Traditionally, Chinese have been drinking teas, but they are shifting to coffee given its aroma and unique taste.

To highlight how huge Chinese market is, in May this year, the Chinese bought 1.5 tonnes of Rwandan coffee beans within a minute in online auction.

With the increasing volumes of organically grown coffee, Uganda has an advantage over other African countries to capture the China coffee market.

Coffee is by far Uganda’s most important export as it generates 20%-30% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

According to Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) Coffee Roadmap, Uganda aims to produce 20m 60kg bags of coffee by 2030. This means that Uganda must look for market for the increasing coffee volumes. The China market is the new frontier. 

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