Sunday December 3 2017

Drink more coffee

By Michael J. Ssali

A lot of emphasis has been put on transforming coffee production systems in order to increase household incomes and to compete effectively with other global coffee producers.
As coffee producers the effort to widen its market should include our own liking for drinking it.
As producers and consumers of coffee, ourselves, we will be more inclined to produce it in a cleaner way and it will be internationally yearned for as a unique Ugandan product.
Robusta coffee is known to have originated here and often our country is referred to as the birthplace of the crop.
But how much of it do we consume ourselves, compared to other African coffee producing countries such as Ethiopia?
According to Joseph Nkandu, Executive Director of the National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE), Uganda consumes only about five percent of the coffee it produces while Ethiopia consumes about forty percent of its own coffee.
Why do we expect other countries to like a product whose consumption we don’t promote? It ought to have both domestic and international market.
Domestic coffee consumption in Uganda was at just 216000 sixty-kilogram-bags in 2012, according to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority and it has not greatly improved since then due to the absence of a coffee drinking culture.
The lack of local consumption has greatly discouraged the establishment of local coffee powder factories and coffee bars. It has also robbed us of the thousands of jobs that would have been created in the factories and bars.
Everywhere people, including coffee farmers, spread misconceptions about the health risk aspects of consuming coffee.
Ironically other countries continue drinking coffee at the global annual growth rate of 2.4 percent?
A recent British Medical Journal report said: “Compared with non-coffee drinkers, those who drank about three cups of coffee a day appeared to reduce their risk of getting heart problems or dying from them.
The strongest benefits of coffee consumption were seen in reduced risks of liver disease, including cancer.” Perhaps Ugandan medical professionals should help change the negative beliefs about coffee consumption.