26 February 2013

Uganda: Coffee Body to Up Standards

Kampala — The Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) has embarked on a move to improve the standards or roasted coffee in the country.

Working with Uganda National Bureau of Standards, an official from UCDA told East African Business Week that the Authority has put in place strategies of improving the quality of coffee processed.

"Uganda is the second leading producer of coffee in Africa and ranked 10th overall in the World but about 98% of its coffee is exported leaving less for the domestic market and this is largely attributed to the fact that many of the roasters are small holders who need to be sensitized on standards," said the Official during the 10th African Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition in Kampala recently.

She said that working closely with UNBS will help UCDA gain from the expertise of UNBS in standards formulation especially at such a time when they are reviewing the Coffee Regulations and formulating standards for Roast & Ground and soluble Coffee.

"These standards will increase the competitiveness of Uganda Coffee (especially Roast and Ground Coffee) in the regional (EAC & COMESA) and overseas markets," she added.

UCDA started meeting roasters on a quarterly basis to compare locally roasted and grinded coffee with that from other coffee producing regions to come up with standards. The standards cover the hygiene of the roasting area, the coffee and the packaging among others.

"Some of the roasted coffees are really poor and cannot compete with the quality roasted coffee on international markets," the official confessed.

Other strategies by the authority to improve the quality of coffee include training roasters and brewers of coffee like students who can be employed in local cafés. Workers in processing industries are also targeted so that they can improve on the quality of the product processed.

In Brazil that produces 50million bags of coffee annually for example, natives consume 50% of the product unlike in Uganda where many grow it mainly as a cash crop for foreign consumers.

The authority has also come up with measures to eliminate substandard brands from the local market, which discourage local consumers.

These include companies that had been processing poor grades of coffee and others that turn husks into powder and sell to unsuspecting consumers.

"It is important to train brewers and roasters in cafés and supermarkets who are able to prepare the beverage up to the recommended standard and those who can identify quality brands good for consumers," the official added.

UCDA Licenses coffee roasters, processors and exporters, and carries out quality inspection and regulation. All coffee exports must be quality checked and certified prior to export.

UCDA also carries out training of quality controllers, cup testing and some extension among processors.

Uganda Investment Authority recommends the coffee roasting temperature to be about 200 degrees Celsius to come up with a quality product.

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