Coffee is Uganda’s number one export, currently producing about 4 million bags annually (figure from 2014). The coffee industry supports over 1.7 million farming families in Uganda and accounts for approximately 20% of all export trade.
CQI began working in Uganda in 2005 under the USAID Africa regional program where Uganda was included in the overall strategy for the region. This includes cupping training and Q grader training, along with barista, roasting, and inclusion in regional events through EAFCA. CQI's work in combination with strong leadership from UCDA Director Henry Ngabirano, allowed Uganda to progress quickly as a leader in barista and coffee shop improvements. Uganda has a strong network of professional exporters that also enabled strong market connections.
Projects have progressed in Uganda and in 2014 UCDA officially launched the Center for Robusta Excellence (CORE), which connects standards, training, grading, and quality improvement efforts at a regional and global level. An independent report from the International Trade Centre confirmed in 2012 that the average value of coffee exported from Uganda has increased from 2006-2010 by over 2 times that of similarly positioned origins during the same period, which is directly attributed to quality improvement initiatives.
In 2014, UCDA and CQI published the industry's first comprehensive guide of standards and procedures that define Fine Robusta coffee, similar to those of specialty Arabica. Today, Uganda has the largest pool of Fine Robusta cuppers of any coffee-producing nation. Ugandan instructor Clare Rwakatogoro has recently taught the first ever Q Robusta courses in Europe, bringing specialty robusta into Europe.
In continuing quality improvement and specialist training programs, coffee will no doubt proceed to grow as an even more prominent export for Uganda.