By Ronald Kalyango
FIFTEEN coffee factories have been closed down by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) in Luweero, Kiboga, Mubende, Mpigi, Gomba and Mityana districts.
The affected factories include Bulema, Mwebe, Hanga Maiso, Hajji Nsamba, Kisuule, Honest, Butawuka, Alilaba ki, Lubanga, Mazima Bugaga, JLK, Busaana, Makukuba and Mirembe coffee factories.
They were closed down due to poor hygiene at the factory premises, poor coffee handling methods and operating without licences.
“Our coffee exports have continued to drop simply because farmers have failed to follow our advice of adapting to the recommended practices,” said Erias Ayiga, UCDA’s principal technical officer.
He listed some of the recommended practices like harvesting red ripe cherries, drying the harvested coffee on raised chambers or tarpaulins and factories having cemented floors.
All the closed factories were found with green coffee beans mixed with red cherries, were drying coffee on bare ground and had mouldy coffee in the stores, while others did not have husk collection chambers.
“As UCDA, we have played our role of sensitising farmers and demonstrated the benefits that comes with proper coffee handling, but I must say that we have been let down by stakeholders who want quick money,” Ayiga said.
He, however, noted that UCDA has partnered with the Police force in the countryside to monitor and arrest culprits who don’t adhere to guidelines.
“We have equipped all the police posts in the countryside with information regarding the recommended coffee handling practices and the 1994 coffee regulations. They are now in better position to arrest the culprits,” said Ayiga.
He said the coffee task team has covered all districts in the western, Busoga and central regions.
“We launched the task force after several warnings from western countries about their intention to ban our coffee for five years,” said Ayiga.
However farmers and traders said they needed the Government’s intervention to procure and distribute tarpaulins at cheaper prices.