US envoy on a mission to market Uganda’s Specialty Coffee

US ambassador to Uganda, Ms Deborah Malac. FILE PHOTO 

Kampala-US ambassador to Uganda Deborah R. Malac is leading a reverse trade mission to the Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle that starts on Friday.

This is part of the US government’s ongoing commitment to building trade and investment opportunities in Uganda.

Ms Malac, jointly with the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) and the USAID East Africa Trade & Investment Hub, will be joined by Uganda’s Ambassador to the US, Mr Mull Katende and more than 20 Ugandan coffee entrepreneurs in the campaign.

Specialty coffee refers to the process of roasting and extracting coffee from farmers to the cup using single origin coffee without adding other ingredients.

“Looking forward to a great two days in Seattle, USA, at the Specialty Coffee Expo with the Uganda Coffee Development Authority and the USAID East Africa Trade,” Ms Malac wrote on Twitter.

The latest effort seeks to boost the profile of Uganda’s coffee industry, which is Africa’s largest coffee exporter, but sends just three percent of its exports to the US.

More than 10,000 people attend the Specialty Coffee Expo every year. Most of them are US coffee roasters and coffee shop owners looking for the next great source of beans. 

The trade mission will promote business-to-business linkages between Ugandan growers and US roasters with face-to-face meetings, a cupping event, and a networking reception.

US companies that sell processing, packaging, and roasting equipment – all of which are essential to adding value to Uganda’s coffee crop – are eager to make connections with Uganda’s leading coffee firms.

Ms Malac in a communiqué issued on Friday highlighted the mutual benefits of partnering with Uganda to promote America’s favourite breakfast beverage.

 “We’re always working to encourage trade and investment between our countries, but this effort is particularly exciting because coffee is so critical to Uganda’s future,” she said.

She added that although Uganda is the 8th largest coffee producer in the world and the top African exporter, its coffee is relatively unknown in the US. 

“I know the market is increasingly demanding ethically and sustainably-sourced products—and people are willing to pay a premium for them. Whether it’s Fair Trade or organic certified, Uganda has a story to tell—and sell—in the United States,” Ms Malac said.

Last year, the US Embassy partnered with the American Chamber of Commerce Uganda, on an agricultural trade mission that kicked off about $2 million (Shs7.3 billion) in deals.

After several years of what you would call stagnation, at 3 million 60 kilogramme bags, Uganda’s leading export commodity coffee is now on an upward move as it is almost hitting 5 million kilogramme bags.

Experts in the industry say, if the trend continues, the country’s campaign to reach the 20 million bags mark at least by 2025 will be achieved in no time.

UCDA’s executive director Mr Emmanuel Iyamulemye in an earlier interview with Daily Monitor attributed the performance to the new crop which has started fruiting.

‘We have seen over 500 million seedlings which were planted three-four years ago start fruiting and this has contributed to the volumes that we see now,” Mr Iyamulemye shared.

He, however, said that with all the other agronomical practices in place like the rehabilitation of the existing crop and expansion to new areas like northern Uganda, parts of Busoga and greater Bunyoro, the volumes will continue growing.

With all these interventions; Mr Iyamulemye expressed optimistic that by end of this year, the country will hit a 5 million kilogramme bag mark.





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