UCDA to Crackdown on Traders who Adulterate Coffee Beans

Kasese: Uganda Coffee Development Authority has sworn to intensify operations to crack down on traders and processors who adulterate coffee beans by mixing them with other substances, an action that reduces the quality of Uganda’s coffee.

“We are here to tell you that the quality of coffee has continued to deteriorate and you must change or else we are going to use a lot of force like what was used in the fishing industry to restore sanity,” the Executive Director Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), Dr. Emanuel Iyamulmye said.

Dr. Iyamulmye said coffee traders in the western districts of Kasese have failed to adhere to the coffee regulations with crafty traders mixing good quality coffee with stones and husks.

“We have taken up Kasese as our focus for coffee development, and quality must be up to standard,” he said.

The regulator gave the warning during an interface between farmers, coffee traders and middlemen, coffee cooperative unions and officials from the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) at Kasese District Multipurpose Hall in Kasese town on Saturday.

At the meeting, coffee traders in the western district of Kasese confessed to putting poor quality coffee on the market.

“We know what we have been doing to compromise the quality of coffee at our stores and factories. It is not true that farmers are the ones who mix coffee with stones but we the traders, if we want to improve the quality, we better do what is right,” Gertrude Kyogabirwe, a coffee trader said.

Fred Bwambale, the chairperson of the coffee traders in the district noted that the major problem was on the side of processors whom he said provide a market for poor quality coffee.

“It is not true that farmers adulterate coffee but we coffee processors and traders who want more gains after giving farmers peanuts, are the root cause of these problems,” Bwambale said.

Coffee farmers in Kasese district have for long decried the rate at which the cash crop is being adulterated by unscrupulous buyers who prey on immature coffee.

The farmers said during the interface that they are discouraged when they see no price difference between those selling high-quality coffee and poor quality coffee.

Lt Col Barnabas Mughongo, the coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation in Kasese, who attended the meeting suggested stringent enforcement to adjust the mindset of the traders and processors.

“If adulterated coffee is found in a particular area, then the local council one leader (of the area) must be arrested like in the past,” Lt Col Mughongo said.

Rajab Olimi, the manager Great Lakes Coffee, said for the last 10 years, the quality of coffee in Kasese has been a big challenge. He called for technical expertise in the coffee processing and value chain to check the rot “before it is beyond redemption and drives farmers into abandoning the crop due to losses.”

Olimi said the coffee regulator should take part of the blame. “We have a lot of gaps where officials from UCDA themselves compromise the quality,” he said. “Quality analysis must be done and receipts issued to every vehicle that takes coffee out of the district.”

Kasese District is known for producing high-quality coffee beans but stakeholders say the quality is deteriorating fast.

UCDA announced it plans to improve coffee productivity and quality in Kasese by stumping the old coffee trees and planting more on the hilly areas.

In August, UCDC drafted a new bill that seeks to preserve the quality and boost coffee growing in the country.

Currently, coffee trade is governed under the Coffee Regulation 1994 and Coffee Development Authority statute 1991.

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