While the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted every country’s economy by among others dwindling foreign exchange earnings due to the lockdowns in various countries and slow cargo movement across borders, Uganda’s coffee sub sector grew with exports hitting the highest level since 1994.
The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Vincent Sempijja disclosed this on Tuesday as he announced the International Coffee Day which will be commemorated on October 1, 2020.
“Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the coffee sub sector in Uganda has remained buoyant with coffee exports at the end of the Financial Year 2019/20 hitting the highest level since liberalisation of the economy in 1994 at 5.1 million 60kg bags from only 4.2 million bags worth USD 415 million in Financial Year 2018/19,” he said.
In 2015, President Museveni launched a coffee replanting programme in what is currently referred to as the Coffee Roadmap, aimed at producing and exporting 20 million bags per year by 2025.
Coffee remains a strategic commodity in the agro-industrialization agenda under the new National Development Plan III due to its potential in providing the highly needed foreign exchange as well as social balance.
Coffee exports revenue still constitutes the highest proportion of goods exports in Uganda. It was at 13% in Financial Year 2019/20 as per the Bank of Uganda records and it has contributed 20-30% of total goods exports in the last decade.
Sempijja expressed Government’s desire to see active participation of all coffee stakeholders to ensure that the great strides made will lead to more accomplishments in the coffee Industry.
“This entails involving the youth, women, people with disabilities (PWDs) as well as those in hard to reach areas. In doing so, we are confident that farmers will be empowered, farm incomes will increase with subsequent reduction in poverty levels and subsistence farmers will transform to commercial farmers with comprehensive knowledge of the market,” Sempijja said.
Government, he said, has increased agricultural extension staff in the field that will enhance farmer outreach and ensure that farmers receive the knowledge and guidance to apply good agronomic practices.
He added that Government is endeavoring to address the impediments to the achievement of 20 million bags target by 2025 such as climate change which requires adaptation and mitigation measures in order to create effective and long term benefits in the coffee sub sector.
Parliament, on August 5, 2020, passed the National Coffee Bill 2018 which seeks to repeal and replace the Uganda Coffee Development Authority Act, Cap 325 enacted 29 years ago, which does not meet the current needs and long term goals of farmers or Government.
The National Coffee Bill 2018 provides for Uganda Coffee Development Authority to promote, oversee and regulate all on – farm and off-farm activities along the coffee value chain.
The Bill is yet to be assented to by the President.