Coffee farmers and traders in South Western Uganda have formed a Coffee Investment Consortium to address challenges faced by the sector.
The Coffee farmers cite Middlemen and low prices as the major challenges while the traders cite poor post-harvest methods.
The coffee investment consortium will bring together more than 500 farmers and traders drawn from Ankole, Kigezi, and Rwenzori regions.
Milton Mpamize a coffee Farmer from Kanungu District said that coffee has no specific price noting that currently, a kilo of unprocessed coffee costs 3,500 Shillings while the processed one is 5,000 Shillings/ He adds that the price is also different in other districts.
According to Mpamize, with the consortium in place, they are hopeful the price challenge will be solved.
Junior Manzi the Chairperson Rubirizi-Rwenzori Coffee Cooperative society said that the initiative will be an eye opener for the cooperatives to add value to the coffee and attract a wider market for different brands of Coffee products.
Yasin Magurukane, a coffee trader in Ntungamo said that farmers were skeptical of joining cooperatives or allowing their cooperatives to join unions. He says that the consortium will them fight corruption and middlemen.
Consolata Tumwesigye, one of the investment Consortium architects said that the consortium is bringing together the Unions that have been started by the many cooperatives but have remained static because they face several challenges.
She said that as coffee farmers and traders they are seeking to find a single brand to market their coffee from the region without being cheated by the multi-international companies.
Nelson Tugume, the Director of Inspire Africa, said that the coffee investment consortium will be the framework or umbrella of the unions that will seek to bring them together despite their differences and competition in the market.
The State Minister for Cooperatives Fredrick Gume Ngobi says that since both the farmers and traders have come together under their cooperatives and unions, the government is ready to support them both financially and technically in adding value to the coffee.
The Initiative comes at a time when coffee traders and farmers are challenging a coffee agreement that was signed between the government and Vinci Coffee Company.
The agreement with the government has provisions to exempt the Vinci Coffee Company from paying taxes including Income Tax, Pay As You Earn, Excise duty, and NSSF.
Uganda exports more than 21 million tons of coffee to the world market.