Why Ugandan Government Hired ‘expatriates’ to teach Ugandans how to drink coffee

As part of efforts to grow its economy through the promotion of Coffee, the Ugandan government is hiring foreign coffee and health professionals to sensitise Ugandans about the benefits of consuming coffee. Although Uganda is Africa’s largest coffee exporter, it earns less than Ethiopia in revenues per unit.

This is because Ethiopia processes most of the coffee it produces and, although it sells most of it locally, it fetches more. Now, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority managing director, Emmanuel Iyamuremye says government is going to fly in experts to teach Ugandans the need to consume coffee. This Iyamuremye says, as more Ugandans demand for more coffee, it will not only make farmers earn more from their coffee but also improve the processing process which will eventually earn more money for the country. It is not immediately clear how many or how the expatriates will sensitise Ugandans about the benefits of coffee drinking.

Cleaned coffee, technically known as fair average quality costs between Shs 3,900 and Shs 4,200 a kilo, which is more than double the cost of uncleaned coffee beans locally called Kiboko. Meanwhile, a cup of coffee drink costs between Shs 3,000 and Shs 10,000 in a city coffee shop.

However, the coffee sector is finding it hard to make Ugandans, including coffee farmers themselves to adopt to coffee drinking because traditionally, Ugandans are consumers of tea while some think tea has more health benefits than coffee. 

“We’re first demystifying the myth that coffee makes people not to have sleep. So we have started a process where we bring experts from abroad who are medical people so that they explain that coffee actually has health benefits. We’re now coming to the institutions where we have formed university clubs and secondary schools where they appreciate that coffee is a good drink. Lastly, we’re looking at how we can promote roasting in the country. We have been training youths, barristers how to serve a good cup of coffee. We have helped to generate many cafes around the corners of Kampala but also upcountry you see the coffee culture coming up,” Iyamuremye said.

Uganda exported up to 5.2 million 60 kilogram bags last coffee year, the highest volumes exported in a year since 1991 and earned the country close to $500 million. Most of this was exported between July and August, a surprising development that this was during the COVID-19 induced lockdown. This gives more hope that the country will attain the 10-year strategy aimed at exporting 20 million bags between 2025 and 2030.

The Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja says Uganda’s coffee is also gaining market and has already taken over the Italian market from India. He, however, says that had it not been for the pandemic which paralyzed some activities like transportation to some countries and delays at borders, the coffee industry would have performed much better.

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