By Mike Ssegawa
The biggest coffee event in Uganda in the most recent history is taking place at the Kampala Serena hotel.
On Wednesday, the conference opened its doors at the Victoria Conference Hall which was filled to capacity with delegates coming all over Africa, Europe, Americas and Asia.
The opening day of the three day event was graced by among others the First Deputy Prime Minister Moses Ali who lauded Uganda’s increased coffee production of 4.6 million bags from 3 million bags recently. The increased production of the crop has fetched the country at least $540 million.
Uganda to invest in revamping the coffee sector by investing in research and good coffee practices as well as quality promotion.
Moses Ali was joined by local and international speakers including Ishak Lukenge, the African Fine Coffee Conference board chairman, Stephen Asiimwe the CEO of Uganda Tourism Board, David Veal from the Spealty Coffee Association, Jose Sette the executive director of ICO, Deborah Malac the US ambassador to Uganda.
The others are Phil Schluter the managing director of Schluter SA and Josephine Mukumbya the CEO of Agricultural Business Initiative (aBi) spoke at the event.
Asiimwe highlighted the history of Robusta coffee which Uganda is known for, having been planted by chimpanzee in Kibaale district. He invited visitors to Uganda to experience not only Uganda coffee but take their time around to taste Kampala’s night life, visit the Nile River source as see animals in Entebbe.
Two people were recognized with a life achievement award for their contributions towards the growth of the coffee sector in Africa. Mr Simeon Ratemo Onchere, a Kenyan national, and Dr Frederick Kawuma the secretary general of the Inter African Coffee Organisation were celebrated for offering their expertise and energy towards creating platforms and regimes for the coffee industry to flourish.
Speaker after speaker spoke about better days for the coffee sector to come including ensuring the farmers benefit from their crop by bridging the gap between the cost of coffee at tail end of consumption and the farm gate prices.
In April 2017, President Museveni launched the coffee roadmap which is lauded as a transformative plant to improve coffee production in Uganda.
Agriculture state minister Christopher Kibazanga said there are three pillars on which coffee success will be built including; demand and value addition, increased production and creating an enabling environment for the sector to flourish. He assured coffee players that the coffee policy is addressing the rocky patches in the roadmap.
Uganda Coffee Development Authority boss Dr Emmanuel Niyibigira Lyamulemye said Uganda was also looking at opening new coffee markets further into Egypt, and Algeria with direct flights into those countries as well as exploring markets in Russia, Japan, China and South Korea.
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