On a sunny morning, Nasser Mutesasira hands out free packets of processed coffee to farmers who sell coffee beans to his company for processing.
“I’m giving you this coffee so you can taste your own produce,” says Mutesasira, who buys coffee beans from 991 farmers in the hilly areas of Kapchorwa, Bulambuli, Mbale and Bududa.
Although generations of farmers here have only grown the coveted Arabica coffee, a handful have ever had a cup of coffee brewed from their beans.
Farmers grow coffee for commercial rather than domestic consumption.
Uganda is one of Africa’s largest exporters of high-quality Arabica and Robusta coffee, but less than five percent of locally produced coffee is consumed in the country, says Mutesasira, who runs Sipi Hills Coffee in Mbale, Uganda’s Arabica coffee hub.
Recent statistics from regulators rde Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) show that in 2021 the national exhibition produced 389,936.46 tons of coffee and earned US$2.35 trillion ($627.18 million).
In the As of April 19, 2022, Italy was the largest importer of Uganda’s coffee with a market share of 33.12 percent, followed by Sudan with 14.59 percent, Germany 13.41 percent, India 7.71 percent and the USA 7.3 percent.
In the same month, 23 percent of Uganda’s coffee exports went to African countries, with Algeria, Sudan, Morocco and Tunisia, Tanzania, South Africa, South Sudan, Somalia and Kenya as the main markets.
While Uganda annually almost Exported 400 million kilograms of coffee, according to UCDA statistics, only about 14,688,000 kg are consumed at home. Despite the 88 registered coffee exporting companies in the country, only 20 Ugandan brands are available on local supermarket shelves.
Joel Kaburu runs Uganda Coffee Tours, a company that organizes coffee tours and processes coffee for local and international tourists on a quest for souvenirs, is dismayed that while many Ugandans avoid locally made coffee, they end up buying imported brands at exorbitant prices.
“These ordinary coffees are made from the triage, which are basically the defective coffee beans. Our locally produced coffee is of a much better quality, but these international brands are good at marketing and branding,” he says.
On average, a Ugandan farmer sells a kilo of Arabica coffee for Ush 10,000 (US$2.66). $). ) and Robusta at Ush4,000 ($1.07). There are approximately 1.7 million households in Uganda that grow coffee.