UGANDA - The Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) has closed down 48 coffee processing factories in Kayunga District over poor hygiene and processing immature berries.
The authority has also halted buying of coffee in the district, one of the leading coffee growers in the country, causing uproar among the farmers, buyers and processors.
The UCDA director, quality and regulatory services, Mr Edmond Kananura, said processing immature coffee beans compromise the quality of the product.
“We have discovered that factories in the district have been processing immature coffee cherries and we are giving them two weeks to sort out this problem lest their factories will remain closed,” Mr Kananura said.
He added that UCDA officials will still maintain presence in the district to ensure no factory opens and no trader buys coffee until the problem is addressed.
Mr Kananura said the factories will only be allowed to operate after ensuring the factory owners comply with the directive.
Coffee business is currently lucrative with a kilogramme of dry coffee going for Shs2,400.
The UCDA official said similar operations have been carried out in Iganga, Kamuli, Luweero, Lwengo and Kalungu districts, among others.
Ssalongo Ssempala, a factory owner, said the closure is affecting them since this is the time they make some money. The coffee picking season in Kayunga District began in October and ends in January.
“My factory was not engaging in processing green coffee, but since UCDA imposed a blanket action I am also affected,” Mr Ssempala said, adding that the closure has left many people jobless.
Mr Moses Kibumba, the Kayunga istrict agricultural officer, said he was working closely with UCDA to ensure that the coffee that comes from the district is of high quality.
“We are also going to arrest and prosecute farmers who dry coffee on bare ground,” Mr Kibumba said.
Ads and Related Buttons Ads minus related Buttons
Uganda Coffee Development Authority has, in the last five years, been closing down coffee factories that do not meet quality standards.
According to Coffee Regulations (1994), coffee farmers and dealers are supposed to harvest only red ripe cherries, drying the harvested coffee on raised chambers or tarpaulins and factories must have cemented floors.