Uganda’s Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda has noted that he is positive about the state of two major sectors, coffee and tourism, to play a fundamental role in achieving the country’s economic objective.
Uganda is gearing towards becoming a middle-income economy, with the PM voicing that the country’s foreign exchange earners have the potential to unlock the breakthrough.
“Coffee is a priority sector for Uganda, generating approximately 18 -20 per cent of our foreign exchange over the past 20 years while contributing to the income of millions of rural households. On the other hand, tourism is the highest foreign exchange earner.
Therefore combining these two priority sub-sectors will have a positive impact on the Ugandan economy which grew at 5.5 per cent last Financial Year, 2017/18 and is now well over 6 per cent,” the PM noted.
The prime minister was addressing over 180 delegates and 20 exhibitors who had graced the first annual Coffee and Tourism Symposium and Exposition at Golden Tulip Hotel in Kampala with their presence, a platform that pondered on how the proceeds and potential of the two mentioned subsectors can be tapped and even boosted.
Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) and partners that include the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Tourism, and Uganda Local Government Association orchestrated the conference that took place on 6th December.
Uganda is one of the World’s top 10 producers of coffee, the second largest in the African continent after Ethiopia. Despite being considered as one of the main coffee producers the commodity does not feature in the World’s top 15 value earning coffee exporting countries.
As a result, it has prompted more attention from the prime stakeholders to come together and seek ways to make it competitive in the international market. However, most coffee companies like Starbucks and Nescafe process coffee beverages from some of Uganda’s sorted and finest coffee beans.
Neighbouring country Rwanda is a competitor in the industry regionally and internationally. The country has put in sustained efforts to produce some of the world’s best coffees including better processing.
In October this year, Rwanda coffee was announced the “Best of the Best” by US-based Illycaffè, edging South America’s producers such as Brazil for a competitive slot in the global market.
Uganda plans to increase its coffee exports from the current 4.6 million (60kg” bags per year to 20 million (60 kg) bags by 2025. The government is optimistic about achieving this goal through its Coffee Roadmap.
Coffee tourism which involves linking coffee farmers to consumers through a farm-to-cup approach with tourists touring the farms and sharing their experience with farmers is a strategic plan in achieving the anticipated results.
Coffee farming as reiterated by Dr Rugunda is a source of livelihood for the youth, men and women in the rural areas. It is recorded that Uganda’s coffee comes from 1.7 million smallholder farmers.
Uganda’s tourism industry contributes 10 per cent to the country’s GDP which translates to more than $1.4 billion yearly.