Kyagalanyi’s trek to quality coffee exports
Posted Tuesday, April 13 2010 at 00:00
Mr David Barry is the managing director of Kyagalanyi Coffee Limited Uganda’s leading coffee exporting company.
Barry has been in the coffee business since 1978 when he started his career in London.
“I have either lived in or visited many of the coffee producing countries in the world,” he says.
Barry is the former vice president for coffee trading at Equator Trade Services, which was a subsidiary of HSBC Group. In 2004 Barry left to join Kyagalanyi Coffee.
Kyagalanyi (which means friendly in Luganda) has for years been making a great contribution towards coffee development - Uganda’s top export earner.
The company, which has consistently been riding on top of a list of 20 coffee exporting companies, was founded when the Uganda coffee industry was liberalised in the 1990’s.
In 2009, the company exported over 510,000 bags of coffee all over the world, primarily the European Union, Australia and Japan and to high-profile roasting companies.
Besides being the largest exporter in three of the past five years, the company has also been one of the largest foreign exchange earners according to the Uganda Export Promotion Board-Presidential Exporters Awards for 2009 in Uganda
Kyagalanyi has been bringing its home grown Ugandan premium coffee to coffee drinkers on the global market.
“This company is one of the first fully licensed private processors and exporters and the leading exporters of Ugandan coffee. We focus on the full range of Ugandan coffees, namely natural robusta, washed robusta, natural Arabica and washed Arabica,” Mr Barry whose key focus has been on quality says.
“Everything we do at Kyagalanyi and with respect to coffee; we make an emphasis on the Arabica segment of the market.”
He says the robusta component is also vital to them but there is less immediate opportunity to make dramatic improvements in the value chain in these qualities.
One of our hallmarks is an innovative approach to the absolute quality of our export ready coffees.
The international profile of the company is high and backed by becoming the first ISO 9001: 2000 certified coffee exporters in the country.
“We were the first 4C (Common Code for the Coffee Community) verified exporter in Africa and UTZ certified,” Barry says.
Barry is proud of the entire work force at his company and pleased to see excellent young Ugandans coming through the ranks and taking on greater responsibilities.
He adds that the industry, in many respects, is in great shape although the key challenge has always been at the farmers’ level. “As everyone knows Uganda’s coffee production is handled by many small holders,” he says.
The relatively weak global prices for coffee during the last few years have given small holders the incentive to produce better volumes but quality has not improved markedly.
However, he thinks the introduction of good agricultural practices, is vital to improving farmers’ incomes. “It is clear that better practices or overall improved husbandry like soil analysis, new planting material, pruning, stumping, mulching all contribute to improved yields and better quality,” he adds.
In its contribution towards helping farmers, Barry says Kyagalanyi, a year ago, installed a primary processing mill at Nakanyonyi in Mukono where it runs the mother garden and seedlings project; this was to scale-up its operation and reinvest in its operations.
The modern equipment further increases productivity of the company and ensures efficient and economic processing of the dry cherries procured in the area.
“In the past couple of years, we have also invested in new colour sorting machinery, air cleaning equipment for our main processing plant, and high grade micro eco-washing stations for washed arabicas in the Mbale area,” he said.
This in turn leads to better prices; it is this “virtuous circle” which needs to take root for better yields; better volumes, better qualities, better prices.
Barry adds that Uganda can only position its self to improve on its ranking in the world by having a steady and sustainable increase in exportable production.
Barry hopes that Uganda can rise above its hindrances to doing business; some of which include poor internet connectivity, a poor road network.