Despite Uganda being ranked as the 2nd largest coffee producer in Africa after Ethiopia, local consumption of the products is very low with an average Ugandan consuming less than half a kilogramme of coffee a year.
Andrew Lajul Kilama the director corporate services at Uganda coffee Development Authority (UCDA) attributed the low intake of coffee to the fact that for a long time, Ugandans have been steered to believe that the coffee they grow is simply a cash crop.
Kilama made the remarks at the launch of the Drink Uganda Coffee Campaign which will run from January 21 to 27, 2018. There will also be a Coffee Tourism Week between February 10 and 16 next year.
Surprisingly, many of coffee growers in Uganda don’t even know how it tastes and those who have attempted to consume the product only eat the roasted cherries for special events as a symbol of covenant between families and individuals.
As a result, the country’s coffee consumption has stagnated at 6% per year compared to other big producers such as Ethiopia that consume more than 50% of what they produce.
“Coffee being the second most traded commodity in the world market after oil, an increase in local consumption to only 20 % will drastically boost the economy through the multiplier benefits that can accrue from quantity production such as job creation,” Kilama said.
According to the 2016 Uganda Annual Coffee Report released in May by Global Agricultural Information Network, low domestic coffee consumption in Uganda is primarily due to low purchasing power and an entrenched tea drinking culture.
Currently UCDA is struggling with reducing the prices of local coffee products which seem to be higher then the imported brands.
“An imported coffee brand is much cheaper than a local packaged coffee because of the high costs of packaging materials. We are in talks with government to reduce on the taxes imposed on the packaging materials for the price to lower down,” Kilama said.
Experts suggested that the growth of domestic coffee consumption could be the key to reviving the local coffee sector to overcome its challenges and UCDA targets growing local consumption to 20% in 5years.