KAMPALA- The British High Commissioner to Uganda, Kate Airey, has described Uganda’s coffee as one of the best in the world.
Ms Airey was on Friday September 24, speaking at the launch of United Kingdom-Uganda cross country Arabica competition at the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) laboratory based at the Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) show grounds, Lugogo, Kampala.
“As you all know, Ugandan coffee is among the best in the world,” Ms Airey, adding, that “unfortunately, the sales do not reflect this”.
Uganda Coffee Development Authority officials led by Managing Director, Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye, were in attendance.
Its against the above background that Ms Airey said the British High Commission is working with UCDA to change the figures to match the taste of Uganda’s coffee.
Ms Airey linked the low Uganda coffee sales to lack of popularization.
“It is just about awareness of how great Ugandan coffee is,” she added, “so, we are hosting this event simultaneously in the UK and Uganda.”
Ms Airey said the UCDA-UK partnership will create jobs for young people that support climate smart growth.
“Agriculture, including coffee production, plays a vital role in developing this goal.
The role of the UCDA, which the government wants to return to the mother Ministry will be crucial in the marketing, with MPs in the 11th Parliament led by Mbarara North MP, Robert Mwesigwa Rukaari now opposing the government’s plan to phase out UCDA and have it’s mandate and activities taken back to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, saying the programmes for the coffee farmers and marketing will suffer.
According to the plans for the rationalization of government agencies and ministries, UDCA is one of the 77 government agencies that are supposed to be phased out as part of interventions to reduce the cost of public administration and minimize duplication of roles.
Speaking during a recent Parliamentary plenary session, Mr. Mwesigwa Robert Rukaari of Mbarara City North warned that the government would be shooting it’s self in the foot with such consideration.
Mr. Rukaari said that rationalization and marging is very good is but from an interprenur point of view, he wondered why would one make UCDA, a department under MAAIF.
“In Africa, Uganda is number one coffe exporters, we produce more than 9 million bags of coffee whereas Ethiopia is number on in production, they have more local consumption which we don’t. However, Uganda, for God’s sake, why would one dare take such an authority under a MAAIF Ministry?” he said.
Citing an example of Kenya in 2014, Mr Rukaari said the neigbouring country later regretted the blunder before repealing the Coffee Board act to return an authority after disastrous effects on coffee production.
The UK is a long term investor in the Uganda agriculture sector, including through our partner AgDevCo, which has linked over 10, 000 farmers to markets, with our economic development programmes in Northern Uganda have raised the incomes of 800, 000 Ugandan people, largely in the agriculture sector,” she said.
Airey says that the UK’s experience in the agriculture sector in Uganda has taught them that “we need to be building sustainable and resilient systems”.
Climate change, for example, may lower the production of Arabica and Robusta coffee in Uganda by 50% by 2050, resulting in the estimated losses of around US$1, 235 million.”
Outside these, Airey, says she is ready to attend the cupping event on September 29, 2021 and “even more excited to taste all the fantastic coffee that is good for the planet, good for the farmer, and good for the cup.”
On his part, the UCDA MD, Iyamulemye, described Friday as a historic day given the fact that President Yoweri Museveni has assented to the National Coffee Act which he says ushers in a new chapter for UCDA and the UK.
He noted that they have had several discussions with the UK aimed at advancing the export of Uganda’s coffee to the United Kingdom.
According to Iyamulemye, the coffee Act will greatly supplement UCDA’s efforts of streamlining both on-farm and off-farm activities for a continued sector growth.
On the partnership, Iyamulemye says that the discussion has been ongoing since March 2021.
“We entered discussions with the British High Commission on how to increase coffee exports to the UK in March this year. We held several meetings with the various stakeholders to actualize this plan. We are grateful to all our partners who have walked with us on the journey to promote Uganda coffee in the UK,” he said, thanking the British High Commission for the “confidence you have had in us and we commit to working with you closely to strengthen our ties and see a deepening of trade relations between Uganda and the UK.”
He added: “We look forward to seeing trade deals come out of this competition and to seeing Uganda coffee on supermarket shelves in the UK.”
According to Iyamulemye, the partnership is part of the Uganda Coffee Roadmap which among others, he says, seeks to brand Uganda coffee locally and internationally and to increase structured demand.