The Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has called for coordination in government institutions particularly the ministry for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, if the goal of exporting 20 million bags of coffee by 2020 is to be achieved.
The Premier made these remarks while launching the Uganda coffee Lab at Lake Victoria Serena Resort, Kigo.
The coffee lab is a rapid delivery lab which brings together stakeholders from across the coffee value chain, to discuss and plan to support Uganda’s goal of producing 20 million bags of coffee by 2020.
Dr Rugunda noted that coffee as a strategic priority for Uganda, has been elevated from a sectoral to a national priority through the Presidential directive, to raise production to 20 million bags by 2020.
He added that the production of coffee had been quite stagnant and this fostered the idea to create a coffee lab. It is aimed at bringing together key stakeholders alongside experts with the highest level of knowledge and understanding, to solve some of the most pressing challenges in the country’s coffee sector.
Over the past years, coffee has generated approximately 30% of Uganda’s foreign exchange earnings. Last year it generated only 17% and production had stagnated at approximately 3.5 to 4 million bags for many decades.
Rugunda noted that much as the coffee sector in Uganda has many donor-led programmes that support its development, a coordinated action across all stakeholders of coffee value chain is key for the growth of the sector.
The Premier said there was need for coordinated actions by all stakeholders in the coffee value chain if the sector is to develop. ‘ Those in the coffee value chain include government bodies, farmer organizations, exporters, traders, processors and input providers’, the Premier said.
He hailed the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit and partners who have worked tirelessly to support the coffee sector in Uganda. He note that despite the challenges that await the coffee lab team, he was optimistic that the innovate spirit and collaborative work will lead to the development of plan for the coffee sector in the country.
The Minister for Agriculture Vincent Ssempijja noted that the need to increase coffee exports is due to its high demand and vast market across the world. He added that the drive to increase coffee exports to 20 million bags will not only attract new entrants into coffee production but will also encourage small scale farmers to increase productivity and competitiveness in this sector.
He appealed for more funding and support to stakeholders in form of fertilizers, pesticides and to work towards achieving the goal of producing 20 million bags of coffee for export by 2020.
The five day coffee lab workshop will hold discussions that will shape the coffee road map for the next several years in Uganda. The head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, Prof Ezra Suruma said the coffee lab marks the beginning of a journey to create a road map towards achieving the 2020 goal of exporting 20 million bags of coffee. ‘The coffee lab is composed of people with expertise and knowledge willing to put their efforts together and make history in the coffee sector’, Suruma said.
He expressed gratitude to all stakeholders especially the Prime Minister for their effort and support towards creating a Coffee Lab to realize 20 million bags of coffee per year and to boost the country’s economic growth.
The workshop attracted a number of participants including officials from the development partners and government.
By Doreen Nasasira