Many farmers are being forced to harvest coffee before it is ready and to sell it to middle men who are out to make a profit, thus compromising the quality of coffee.
Coffee dealers in Kabarole district have asked Uganda Coffee Development Authority to edge out middlemen from the coffee industry accusing them of dealing in substandard coffee.
Dealers in Coffee are concerned that the collapse of coffee cooperatives coupled with lack of a coffee marketing board has exposed farmers to unscrupulous middle men, who buy coffee from the lowest bidder in disregard of quality standards.
Many farmers are now being forced to harvest coffee before it is ready and to sell it to middle men who are out to make a profit, thus compromising the quality of coffee.
Jackson Kamara,a coffee dealer in Kabarole said lack of organized systems in which coffee can be produced, processed and marketed has made the price value of Ugandan coffee to diminish.
“The quality of the coffee in Uganda has been compromised by the middlemen who are out in the market to make profits but don’t mind about the quality of coffee, they even buy immature coffee berries UCDA should close them out,” Kamara said.
Kamara also said the cooperative were charged with assessing the quality of coffee, giving farm support and protecting the price of coffee on the market.
Although there are economic gains from the coffee sector, coffee experts argue that they could be doubled if the system was organized and farmers were supported in acquiring seedlings, fertilizer and disease control pesticides.
Abdullah Mangalija, a coffee processor in Kasenda sub-county, Kabarole district told New Vision that the quality of coffee from Uganda must improve if it is to be marketed on the international market.
“I have a group of more than 10,000 farmers spread across the whole district but they need extension services in order for them to improve the quality of the coffee,” Mangalija said.
He said his group has the capacity to produce a lot of coffee for export, but has been unable to do so because of the unstable output and the poor quality of the product.
“Our coffee has market internationally but we need to improve on its quality, recently I acquired a mobile coffee hurler which will help farmers in the rural areas and save money for transporting coffee to Kasese for hurling,” Mangalija said.
Mangalija said that several farmers have been losing a lot of money and time in transporting coffee to Kasese for hurling and in the process its quality is being compromised.
Mangalija, attributed the problems in Uganda's coffee market to lack of stringent regulations and appropriate structures. He said unscrupulous middlemen and low farm prices have led to a decline of the Ugandan coffee industry.