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July 05, 2010

Uganda to host coffee research center

by David Ssempijja

Uganda's will host the world's Robusta Coffee Centre of Excellence. The centre will serve as a research facility that will help to back up efforts aimed at boosting the cash crop's quality that will enable it enhance world trade performance.

"Uganda has consistently registered great performance not only because her Robusta command more volumes on the world market but also, the coffee's cupping quality has always been impressive. It is therefore, upon that background that the country was chosen to help our research drive," said Ted Lingle, the executive director of the California-based Coffee Quality Institute (CQI).

Lingle was addressing local coffee dealers at a meeting held in Kampala. The meeting was meant to lay strategies for intensifying the presence and demand of coffee products in the world's supermarkets.

Lingle said building of the centre, to be located in Kampala, would start next year and end in 2012.

"CQI will ensure that this will be a world class centre equipped with research facilities about Robusta right from soil science, throughout farming, processing, cupping as well grading and certification," he said.

CQI is a non-profit organisation working to improve the quality of coffee globally. The organisation developed the Q system, an international system for grading quality coffee.

CQI's initiatives are supported by Livelihood Enterprises for Agriculture Development under the United States Agency for International Development and Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA).

Henry Ngabirano, the executive director of UCDA, said the opportunity places the country in a better position that will benefit all stakeholders along the production chain.

"This is an opportunity for us. This will enhance confidence in our coffee, lift demand levels, raise value in terms of annual earnings from our produce compared to what the country earns currently," he said in an interview.

Uganda exported 2.410 million bags of Robusta coffee worth $244.9m in the financial year 2008/2009 while Arabica coffee constituted 0.645 million bags worth $80.86m.

The main destination for Uganda's coffee exports is the European Union which buys about 70% of the coffee, followed by Sudan and India.

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