By Fahad Masereka
Coffee traders in Kasese have been accused of putting poor quality coffee on the global market.
The accusation was leveled during an interface between farmers, coffee traders, coffee cooperative unions and officials from the Uganda Coffee Development Authority at the Kasese district multipurpose hall in Kasese Municipality.
In the past, Kasese was renown for producing good quality coffee but stakeholders say this is no more.
According to the Executive Director Uganda Coffee Development Authority Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye, coffee traders in Kasese have failed to adhere to the Ugandan coffee regulations of 1994 with crafty traders mixing good quality coffee with stones, husks etc.
But Iyamulemye said the regulatory body was committed to improving coffee productivity and quality in Kasese by stumping the old coffee trees and planting more on the hilly areas.
While speaking to the Kasese deputy Resident District Commissioner after the meeting, Joshua Masereka said culprits caught tainting the coffee quality will be harshly dealt with.
A coffee farmer in the area Getrude Kyogabirwe admitted some traders do put stones and husks in the coffee in an attempt to enhance its weight.
She urged the authority to increase its efforts to stamp out the practice,adding that if anyone is found involved in coffee mismanagement, they should be dealt with individually.
However Fred Bwambale Fred, the chairperson Coffee Traders Association, defended the traders arguing that if there was no market for the bad quality coffee, it would not be sold. He charged that there is collusion between the factory owners, buyers and exporters for the poor quality coffee.
Another farmer Mulere Charles Kisembo said there is no reason to trade in bad coffee but farmers are discouraged when they say no price difference between selling good quality and poor quality coffee. He said that when a farmer with bad coffee receives the same amount of money per kilo, this discourages the farmer.
In 2014, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority suspended coffee processing in Busoga, citing improper handling practices by the farmers. It was reported that most farmers in the area were harvesting green coffee cherries, and drying them on bare ground, which resulted into sub-standard coffee.
In August, UCDC drafted a new bill that seeks to preserve the quality and boost coffee growing in the country.
Currently, coffee trade is governed under the Coffee Regulation 1994 and Coffee DevelopmentAuthority statute 1991.
Uganda Coffee Development Authority to crackdown on trade in poor quality coffee in Kasese