The controversial Shs 284 billion deal between the government and the Uganda Vinci Coffee Company to process and export Ugandan coffee has come under heavy criticism from various stakeholders over shortcomings in the current regulatory framework.
The biggest coffee exporter, Andrew Settimba, owner of Qualicoff, is the latest to come forward and noted that the deal not only deprives Ugandans of competition, but also stifles the country’s tax base. He was addressing the media on the state of the sector.
“Uganda is a liberalized economy where all sectors are competitive. A farmer who produces coffee is happy because he has the choice to choose who to sell to. He is free to sell to the highest bidder. It is healthy for economy,” he added. mentioned.
“From my experience as an exporter, the deal leaves me in a state of confusion because I don’t know where I’m going because as a Ugandan I think President Museveni was lobbying for value addition. For example, we shouldn’t export 100 percent green beans. We should add value by roasting coffee and leave some for domestic consumption. So if someone comes to add value , especially for the coffee we export, so I would support that because Uganda does not have the technical knowledge in the area of adding value to our coffee.”
In this context, Settimba believes that if the agreement is not canceled, the only beneficiary of this agreement will be Vinci and those behind it. “If the company were to add value and export it as coffee powder, then that’s commendable and I support it 100%. It means I wouldn’t have to incur any flight costs when exporting to Starbucks, but as an exporter, Vinci has no impact and the resulting losses far outweigh the benefits.”
He added that Uganda’s coffee struggles have never been about buyers because good quality attracts the best price.
“We can’t have a winner-takes-all situation where a single entity controls exports. We recently overtook India in the Italian market,” he says. “With the new coffee law, the middlemen are eliminated because they affect the quality of the coffee we export. The quality was spoiled at the level of the middlemen. They are now regulated and this helps us to export good quality coffee. “