UCDA says farmers will now be allowed to bypass middlemen, export coffee directly

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UCDA says farmers will now be allowed to bypass middlemen, export coffee directly
Coffee farmers listens to officials from UCDA.

Starting next year, coffee farmers in Uganda will be able to directly sell their coffee internationally, following an announcement by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA).

This significant shift comes as the licenses of the agencies that have traditionally bought coffee from Ugandan farmers will expire on December 31, 2024, and will not be renewed.

During a meeting with farmers in the Lwengo and Lyantonde districts, UCDA Barley Officer Wasswa Charles explained the upcoming changes.

“All the companies which export our coffee are not for Ugandans which means that all the profits which we have to gain are the ones who gain it and we praise them for being rich. The owner of Ibello is a German company which has the biggest estate in Africa. He knows what he got from coffee. It is on record that one kilogram of kase these companies take it at shs12,900  which makes three  dollars but they sell that kilogram at 75 dollars that is 260,000 shillings,” Wasswa said.

He also added that Ugandan coffee is mostly sold in Italy and Germany.

"This move will empower our farmers to improve their earnings and have more control over the quality and pricing of their coffee. We believe this will also enhance the overall quality of Ugandan coffee as farmers will be directly involved in every step of the export process."

Coffee is a crucial commercial crop for Uganda, especially for those living in rural areas.

Despite Uganda's significant coffee production, much of it has historically been sold through intermediary agencies. This change aims to improve transparency and ensure farmers receive fair compensation for their hard work.

Research indicates that Brazil remains the world's largest coffee producer, with an annual production of 60 million bags but 45 bags out of 60 remains inside their country.

However, Brazil's domestic retention of a significant portion of its coffee is believed to be contributing to rising coffee prices globally, including in Uganda.

Ethiopia is noted as Africa's largest coffee producer, yet Uganda leads the continent in coffee exports, often at competitive prices.

The new directive from UCDA aims to similarly boost Uganda's coffee export potential.

Charles Wasswa emphasized that this transition will also support the growth of farmer cooperatives, facilitating better market access and higher quality standards.

"Forming cooperatives will streamline the process, making it easier for our farmers to meet international market demands," he stated.

Wasswa said that UCDA has already embarked on registering coffee farmers because in this new move the farmer who will not appear on a list will not be able to export his coffee.

Farmers have expressed optimism about the new opportunities, though some concerns remain.

"We welcome this change, but producing high-quality coffee consistently is still a challenge," said Abdallah Ssemakula, a local farmer from Katuulo village in Lwengo district.

"We are still grappling with high prices of fertilizers and coffee, yet the insecticides on the market are still fake."

Adam Kalanzi a farmer from Kalyamenvu village in Lwengo district also said that thieves do not allow them to produce good quality coffee berries.

“Sometimes we are forced to harvest unripe coffee berries because we are afraid of thieves who steal our coffee from gardens and still we get forces of packing coffee which does not dry well because thieves steal it from the compounds.”

Farmers also narrate that the country’s economy forces them to sell their coffee before the harvest time.

To address these challenges, UCDA, in collaboration with the St. Ludovic Foundation, has launched a campaign to educate farmers on modern coffee cultivation techniques.

This initiative aims to prevent issues such as pest infestations and ensure sustainable farming practices.

Additionally, government’s self-development projects like Emyooga and the Parish Development Model (PDM) will provide financial support to help farmers adapt to these new practices.

Currently, 15 major companies, including Ibello and Kyagalanyi, dominate Uganda's coffee export market.

 

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