Government is set to offer skills training to select coffee farmers across the country ahead of the annual Taste of Harvest competition which aims at promoting high quality coffee production.
The Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), the government agency responsible for promoting coffee will take an estimated 300 people including coffee producers, exporters, processors and roasters through a three day training beginning August 23.
Edmund Kananura, the Director of Quality ad Regulatory Services at UCDA while addressing a news conference at the Uganda Media Centre on Monday said that the training will equip the participants with the skills to prepare and process high quality specialty coffee bans and enable them to prepare to participate in the competition.
The competition is slated to take place between January 22 and 26 next year.
For the first time ever, Uganda will hold a coffee auction, according to Kananura.
“Interested farmers will submit their best coffee samples for grading and the grading will be determined by specialists known as Q and R graders. The coffee that will score above 80 points will be considered to be specialty coffee and will automatically attract good market and better prices,” Kananura said.
He added: “We plan to start with small quantities. We shall start with 30 participants each with at least 10 to 50 bags ready which will then be delivered to a warehouse. We are putting the standards high so we present the best of the best.”
He told journalists that Uganda’s potential for specialty coffee is high saying that up to 20% of the country’s volume of exported coffee currently passes the mark of specialty.
The coffee Authority says that as a result of previous trainings, coffee growing areas such as Kanungu, Sipi, Iganga and Luweero have managed to produce coffee that meets international standards and is competitive on the world market.
Kananura said that government is undertaking several other initiatives such as applying simple irrigation technologies and setting up demonstration farms all geared towards improving quality.
Ishak Lukenge, the Chairman African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) on his part appealed on coffee farmers to organize themselves in farmer cooperatives in order to eliminate middlemen.
Lukenge also noted that the forthcoming auction is an opportunity for coffee farmers to not just boost the quality of their coffee but also their income and expand their market.
In 2016, Uganda exported 4.2 million bags of coffee out of the 5 million bags that were produced which was a 0.6% increase from 3.6 million bags that were exported in 2015. Uganda targets to scale production up to 20 million bags by the year 2020.