26 February 2013

Africa: Uganda, Kenya Coffees Top in Africa

Kampala — Uganda and Kenya ranked first at the 10th Africa Fine Coffee and Exhibition held in Kampala recently.

Uganda took the first position for Robusta Coffee while her Kenyan Counterpart grabbed both the first and second position for the best Arabica Coffee in Africa beating Africa's largest producer Ethiopia.

The coffee that was proved basing on scientific characteristics including Aroma and Taste among others beat more than 10 other coffee producing countries including Ethiopia in Africa.

According to the Executive Director Uganda Fine Coffee, Samuel Kamau, Uganda has made significant progress in its coffee especially Robusta given the favorable climate and the good soils.

"The taste and aroma of Ugandan coffee was exceptional in terms of quality as compared to other countries while Kenya stood high for Arabica coffee," Kamau said. "Ugandan Robusta coffee has a hard bean which gives a very good roast. It has a mild soft sweet and neutral taste as well as properties ideal for survival of the crop throughout the year.

He revealed the new protocol for tasting the quality of Robusta coffee that was drawn by Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) in partnership with the Coffee Quality Institute of America.

Betty Namwagala the Executive Director of Uganda Coffee Federation, said Kabum and UGACOF took the first position for Arabica and Robusta coffee respectively.

Uganda, the continent's second-biggest grower of the crop after Ethiopia, launched its coffee replanting programme in 1994, a year after the country detected the coffee wilt disease that devastated half its stock of Robusta trees.

Speaking to East African Business Week, Loise Njeru the Managing Director of Coffee Board of Kenya (CBK) said the country is targets boosting value addition on coffee through including students in higher institutions.

"We have started promotion exercises in higher and tertiary institutions to cut exports of raw coffee beans and improve on the quality of the coffee," Njeru explained.

David Kiwanuka, the spokesperson of UCDA said at least 140 million trees, mainly Robusta, were planted over the last 18 years, with the goal to plant a total of 200 million trees by 2015.

"The replanting aims to optimise foreign exchange earnings into the country and payments to farmers," he said.

The yield for Uganda coffee is 700kg per hectare for traditional Robusta coffee, and 600kg per hectare for Arabica coffee. Uganda produces an average of 3.5 million, 60kg bags per year where Robusta is 80% and Arabica 20%.

"Coffee is intercropped with other crops including bananas, beans and shade trees ensuring environment sustainability and food security. Arabica coffee is grown in the mountainous areas of Uganda like Mount Elgon, Mount Rwenzori and South-western (Muhavura ranges) and West Nile (Nebbi)," added Kiwanuka.

Robusta coffee is grown in areas around Lake Victoria. Robusta still grows wild in the Kibaale and Zooka forests in Kibaale and Nebbi districts respectively.

Coffee in Uganda is harvested all year around with two major peaks from November to February and June to September. Kenya grows Arabica coffee at an altitude of 1400m.

About 81% of Uganda's coffee is destined for the European Union and 14% is exported to the Sudan.

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