Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages all over the world. Brazil, the top coffee producing country, accounted for 40 percent of the global coffee supply. Vietnam, was the second largest coffee producer, accounting for roughly 20 percent of the world coffee production. In Africa, the recent statistics published by the International Coffee Organization indicate that Uganda holds second position after Ethiopia, as the leading coffee producer and exporter. The statistics indicate that during the period 2017/2018, Uganda exported up to 4.8 million sixty-kilogram bags of coffee, equivalent to 288,000 tonnes. Uganda is also known to be the birthplace of Robusta coffee world over. Unlike Ethiopia that produces only Arabica coffee, Uganda holds a major advantage, being a producer and exporter of both Robusta and Arabica coffee. Favorable climate, fertile soils, terrain and improving enabling environment are some of the factors that continue to place Uganda as a leading coffee producer.
The theme of the 2018 International Coffee Day is ‘Women in Coffee’. The theme is specifically important given the need to not only recognize and appreciate the women of Uganda that play a great role in coffee productivity along the coffee value chains, but also the need to create an environment that supports and sustains their meaningful engagement along the value chains–from farm to cup.
The International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) leads women’s empowerment in the international coffee industry by supporting a global network of independent, self-organized, self-governing, organizations or chapters. The IWCA Uganda Chapter (www.iwcauganda.org), in line with the mission of IWCA at the global level works to empower women in Uganda to achieve meaningful and sustainable lives; and to encourage and recognize the participation of women in all aspects of the coffee industry.
“In Uganda, gender stereotypes, norms and expectations constitute a significant factor impeding women from getting actively and meaningfully engaged and participating in activities that promote and help to sustain their economic empowerment,” says Hon. Victoria Sekitoleko, IWCA Uganda Chapter President.
The Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) is the public authority mandated to promote and oversee the coffee industry by supporting research, promoting production, controlling coffee quality, and improving the marketing of coffee in order to optimize foreign exchange earnings for the country and payments to the farmers. UCDA is playing a key role in facilitating women involvement throughout the coffee value chains. Over the past years, UCDA has hosted the IWCA Uganda Chapter Secretariat, and provided operational and financial support in the maintenance of the personnel that support the IWCA Uganda Chapter.
A key challenge that affects coffee trade is also associated to the fact that Ugandans, unlike their Ethiopian counterparts are overwhelmingly tea-drinking people. In a February 2017 story published in Quartz Africa, an online guide to important stories of innovation across the continent’s wide-ranging economies, it is reported that in 2016, Uganda consumed just 3% of the coffee it produced. Ethiopians, on the contrary managed to drink half of all the coffee they produced. Many Ugandans view coffee as a product for export. “We want to make sure that everybody appreciates the value of the coffee they produce”, says Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye, UCDA Executive Director.
Alongside UCDA, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, umbrella organizations including the Private Sector Foundations, farmer organizations and development partners have been championing the development of coffee activities and with a focus on women inclusion for a sustainable coffee sector.
Through the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development, the government of Uganda is at the forefront in proactively advocating for, and supporting the involvement, participation and recognition of the potential role that women can play in augmenting coffee production and coffee trade in Uganda. The Ministry is not only creating an enabling environment for increasing employment opportunities and productivity for improved livelihoods and social security for all but is also working to ensure that issues of inequality and exclusion in access to services across all sectors and at all levels are addressed.
Members of the public are invited to join the rest of the coffee fraternity in Uganda and world over, to celebrate International Coffee Day, and encouraged to take pride in coffee farming, coffee trade and coffee consumption.
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