The number of registered coffee exporters was184 but only 10 are still in existence – Bakwanye, Banyankole Kweterana, Ibero, Kampala Domestic Store, Kyagalanyi, Mbale Importers & Exporters, Nakana, Ugacof, Wabulungu and Zigoti. Since then, many new entrants have come in with annual registrations ranging between 35 and 45.
1996: Drafted the UCTF Code of conduct that was endorsed by the 43 coffee exporting companies.
1996: Other players in the industry (processors, traders, exporters, logistics companies, insurance, banks etc,) joined the Association leading to the formation of Uganda Coffee Trade Federation (UCTF) and its mission was to protect, promote and safeguard the business interests of persons engaged in the coffee trade and industry (whether as growers, processors, agents, roasters, brokers, traders, roasters, exporters and suppliers of agricultural inputs) and persons connected with the industry.
- Main aim was to holistically handle the affairs of the coffee industry so as to increase efficiency, profitability and safeguard future investments.
- Guided the industry through the trial and challenging post liberalisation period;
- Developed various systems and instruments aimed at assisting the coffee traders to act in a professional manner in their transactions;
- Drafted the UCTF Code of Conduct
- Arbitration rules to ensure speed in settlement of disputes as well lower costs associated with such settlement.
- Advocated for the removal of many constraints in the coffee business and trade.
- Tendering and minimum prices were abolished and replaced by indicative prices.
- Monopoly of railway transportation of coffee was also abolished.
- Coffee stabilisation tax was removed.
- Contributed to capacity building that helped to build a critical mass in the industry.
- Strong presence and participation at local and international fora.
This was a turbulent period for UCTF and its members. Most of the post liberalisation challenges had been addressed and as such, many members withdrew their support from the Federation. By 2005, out of the 15Members only 5 were coffee exporters and by 2008, they were 7.
Characteristic of the period:
- Members took passive participation in UCTF affairs;
- Some of the major pillars of UCTF went out of business;
- Prices were at their lowest since liberalisation. It is estimated that between 1998 and 2003 coffee lost 73% of its value triggering an international coffee crisis;
- Many coffee exporters who had established bases in the major coffee producing areas had to pull out because of the quality issues;
- It’s during this period that some coffee exporters started integrating backwards to work with farmers and farmer organization so as to increase production and improve quality;
- By 2006, UCF had 3 board members: The chairman, vice chairman and the treasurer, yet within the same period the treasurer relocated to another country;
- The Federation had to take drastic measures of reducing the secretariat to one staff with minimal operational costs.
Although the members took passive participation in the UCTF affairs, other challenges were cropping up which required a collective effort in addressing them.
2008 – today: Going Back to the Drawing Board
A couple of consultative meetings took place in order to reposition UCTF to respond to the new challenges which included but not limited to:
- Reduced coffee production and productivity;
- Changing environment and demands in the global coffee trade;
- Declining coffee quality;
- Lack of sufficient funding for coffee research;
- Logistical and coffee transportation issues.
UCTF took a more proactive and engaging rather than confrontation and reactive approach; initiating and engaging the appropriate powers on policy and related matters aimed at increasing effectiveness and efficiency of the coffee industry.
A consultant was hired to draw a three-year strategic plan for UCTF (2008 -2011).
The Strategic plan had seven pillars:
- Production – Encourage, support and promote activities for sustaining and increasing sustainable coffee production and trade to address the volume and quality;
- Research – Engage the public sector in policy and strategic dialogues to reform the funding and operations of coffee research in the country;
- Policy Dialogue & Member Representation – Initiate policy dialogue for coffee industry review and reform and provide representation of members in matters pertaining to the coffee business in Uganda;
- Domestic Coffee Markets Development – promote and engage in activities for the promotion of domestic coffee consumption;
- Coffee Private Sector Support System – Undertake and promote the formation of a Coffee Industry Alliance;
- Promotion and Information System – Participate in the promotion of Uganda coffee and dissemination of information;
- Institutional Strengthening – Seek support to strengthen the institutional capacity of UCTF to pursue its strategic objectives effectively.
In response to the members’ needs assessment, these were reduced from seven to four in the 2011-2014 strategic plan:
- Protect and promote members’ businesses to ensure their efficient, effective and profitable operations;
- Develop, support and promote numerous efforts and actions to increase coffee productivity, production and quality;
- Provide numerous platforms for members and stakeholders to meet, fellowship, discuss and share information to promote professional competition and camaraderie among members/stakeholders;
- Provide relevant, accessible and unique coffee value chain information for continual business advantage
Greater mileage was achieved in the policy dialogue through the different platforms: Breakfast fellowships, and Coffee Days and these include:
- Expanding the coffee grades to include Screen 19, 17, 13 which has increased profitability and competitiveness of the Uganda Coffee industry;
- The journey to the recovery of the Semi-autonomous coffee research institute started from the 7th Coffee Breakfast of August 2010;
- The Coffee Days have principally been hinged on production and productivity especially the Promotion of mass multiplication of the CWDr lines through the use of tissue culture;
- The intangible benefits are innumerable since a lot of business deals have been sealed through the networking and information acquired for decision making;
- Though dialogue with UCDA, the Coffee Quality Task Force was created that has led to quality improvement especially at the grassroot level;
- Over the years members have integrated backwards into production and are working with organized farmer groups: – training, providing clean planting materials, and supporting them in achieving certification with the aim of increasing production, productivity and improve quality.
2011; At the 2nd Uganda Coffee Day, under the Nakanyonyi Declaration participants resolved that the Uganda Coffee Trade Federation be changed to Uganda Coffee Federation to encompass all the stakeholders along the coffee value chain.
Future: 2014 and beyond
Post National Coffee Policy: There are six guiding principles:
- Coffee production, processing, marketing shall be undertaken by the private sector as individual farmers, farmer organizations and business companies.
- The sub sector shall operate under a liberalized market environment within the framework of a regulatory body.
- Coffee development services will be provided to all farmers with special emphasis on women and youth.
- Through farmer organizations, small holder farmers shall be empowered to participate at all stages of the coffee value chain.
- Service delivery shall be guided by the needs of all actors in the value chain.