By Vision Reporter
Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has urged Europe’s largest coffee roaster, D.E. Master Blenders, to develop strategic relationships with coffee farmers in Uganda.
Mbabazi told the delegation from the coffee roasting giant that the Government has embarked on a programme to multiply the number of coffee trees in the country to increase productivity.
He said this will reduce household poverty, adding that the Government is encouraging agricultural zoning for specialised agricultural production.
Mbabazi made the remarks while meeting offi cials from D.E. Master Blenders at his offi ce in Kampala on Tuesday.
D.E. Master Blenders, which has its headquarters in the Netherlands, is also the third largest coffee roaster globally.
The company is already operating in Luwero district, focusing on quality improvement, good agricultural practices and improved market access for participating farmer groups.
“I can assure you of total support to facilitate your partnership with farmers because our economy is private sectorled and I do not see this changing soon,” Mbabazi said.
He said proceeds from the nascent oil industry will be used to boost agricultural production and value addition to enable Uganda products meet international standards.
Coffee is an important export product for Uganda, representing about 11% of the total value of exports. Luc Volatier, D.E. Master Blenders senior vice-president for operations, who led the delegation, said Uganda could exploit the global market through the company, whose coffee and tea products are sold in over 45 countries.
The company sales amount to euros 2.7b (about sh11,000 trillion). Volatier emphasised the need for benchmarking high-intensity small-holder coffee farms like it is done in Vietnam and farmer sensitisation and training, as well as offering microfinance support to farmers to eliminate middlemen who erode farmer profitability.
Agriculture minister Tress Bucyanayandi said 65 out of the 112 districts are potential coffee growers.
He added that the Government plans to double national production from 3.5 million to six million 60-kg bags of coffee per annum.
In the early 1990s, Uganda coffee was hit hard by the wilt disease, which killed about 40% of the country’s coffee trees. Due to inadequate research, extension and availability of resistant plant materials, the disease is still prevalent, greatly reducing the productivity of coffee farms.