Uganda has been asked to export more of its coffee mainly Robusta to China as demand piles. Robusta is Uganda’s leading coffee species making almost 85 per cent of the export volumes.
About 10 years ago when Uganda opened up its coffee doors to China it faced challenges because the World’s largest populous country was into tea drinking culture.
If you can build professional connections over a single cup of coffee, imagine what you can do with an entire coffee company. Partnering with the National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses & Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE), a Ugandan coffee company, has allowed Carly Stingl, advisor and program coordinator for UW–Madison’s International Internship Program (IIP), to forge new connections and offer professional opportunities for undergraduates.
International internships are often developed through UW connections all over the world, and the same is true for this opportunity with NUCAFE. Stingl met Rashida Nakabuga, Membership and Advocacy Coordinator at NUCAFE, in 2016 when Nakabuga was on campus as a Mandela Washington Fellow. Through several meetings, Stingl and Nakabuga developed an internship opportunity for UW–Madison students that offers an overall look at how a coffee company works in Uganda. The intern begins the summer by spending a short amount of time in various departments such as operations, sales, and marketing to understand how the company works followed by engaging in projects based on their own strengths and interests.
A newly released study from the multi-stakeholder Global Coffee Platform provides a broad outline for improving farmer incomes throughout the global coffee sector through yield improvements, quality improvements, training, and empowering women farmers, among other opportunities.
TMEA partnered with Uganda’s NUCAFE to invest in a coffee roasting machine. This enabled farmers to process coffee beans, ultimately increasing the value of their produce by 30% as compared to selling raw unprocessed beans.
NUCAFE seeks to improve the lives of coffee farmers by promoting a farmer ownership model. The model holds that farmers should own their product throughout the value chain, from the coffee beans to the final export product.
For a long time, farmers were only “custodians of coffee” says Joseph Nkandu the Executive Director of Nucafe, one of TMEA’s partner in Uganda. They sold raw coffee to cooperatives, where it was de-husked, sorted and graded. At each stage of the value chain the price of coffee increased, but the growers only received payment for the minimum value at the first stage.
Coffee farmers have been advised to embrace research for improved coffee yields and production, as one of the goals to achieve the 20 million coffee bags target by the year 2020.