By Ronald Kalyango
The Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) has teamed up with the Police to streamline the coffee sector.
The campaign launched in Busoga sub-region is in line with President Yoweri Museveni’s directive to UCDA’s managing director, Henry Ngabirano to arrest farmers and traders spoiling the quality of the country’s top income earner.
While officiating at this year’s international cooperative day in Sheema district, the President ordered UCDA to arrest and prosecute people destroying the quality of Uganda’s coffee.
“We shall not sit down and watch farmers and traders spoiling our coffee. Time has come to implement the law,” said Apollo Kamugisha, UCDA’s principal development officer.
Addressing farmers in Kamuli, Bugiri, Jinja, Mayuge and Iganga districts, Kamugisha said the campaign targets farmers harvesting premature coffee beans and those drying coffee on bare ground.
The campaign, which will be rolled out throughout the country, also targets traders without licences and owners of poorly constructed coffee factories.
He said UCDA has over the years received warnings from the international community about the pending ban of Uganda’s coffee over poor quality handling practices.
“The international buyers have threatened to ban our coffee for five years. But UCDA shall not allow this to happen,” Kamugisha said.
During the exercise, UCDA officers confiscated, discarded and later burnt all the green coffee beans found mixed with red cherries.
The officers also locked up factories found processing coffee with moisture levels of above 14%, and those which had un-cemented floors and unplastered walls.
“After all the education on how to maintain the quality of coffee, you are still drying beans on bare grounds?” Kamugisha asked as he ordered confiscation of coffee on bare grounds.
The owners of the closed coffee factories asked the Government to intervene by providing them with cheaper tarpaulins. They also complained of the high prices of cement.
“The tarpaulins are expensive and though we would opt for the cementing the floors, we cannot manage the increasing cement prices,” Edward Nabangi, a coffee buyer in Mayuge said.