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New Q Graders from The Pearl of Africa

This year started off with certifying two new Q Arabica Graders from Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, and -origin of robusta coffee and fine robusta standards. January 15th – 20th 2018 was Utake Coffee’s opening Q Arabica Combo course, that was held in the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) sanctioned Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) lab, in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. In this newsletter, we relate success in part to public institutions’ involvement in building the capacity of stakeholders, and by extension, the overall coffee sector in coffee producing countries.
Sixteen participants from several Ugandan companies registered for this long-awaited course. They took the training diligently and wrote the 20 exams required to qualify as internationally renowned Q Graders.

Two of the 16 students excelled on first attempt to join the international pool of Q Arabica graders worldwide. Naume Komuhangi and Brenda Mangeni both work at the UCDA Lugogo lab as quality officers.  The ladies are also coincidentally international Q Robusta graders, and are among the approximately 200 that exist around the world.

I spoke to Edmund Kananura, the Director of Quality and Regulatory Services at UCDA. One of the things that came through during our discussion is the fact that UCDA, the regulatory body for coffee in Uganda, takes training and capacity building very seriously. So much so that Q courses for both Arabica and Robusta have now been scheduled in their annual calendar, to ensure the expertise to produce, process, grade and trade the finest Ugandan Arabica and Robusta coffees for the whole world to enjoy, is realized here at origin!
Last year, two other Q Graders from Uganda took the Q Arabica course at Utake Coffee in Kenya, and Raphael Wafoyo (pictured) sailed through on first attempt.

R. Wafoyo on passing Q in Sept. ’17

This led me to explore further with Ms. Clare Rwakatogoro, the Promotion and Training Officer at UCDA who is also a Q Arabica and Robusta Grader, and a Q Robusta Instructor. She explained that UCDA set up coffee clubs in 6 universities across the country, to promote coffee as a commodity and a career to food science undergraduate students as well as interested youth.
UCDA not only trains the students on creating coffee brands and selling those brands, it also teaches them how to develop brewing skills. Afterwards they participate in an essay competition, and the winners go through a 2 month internship at UCDA’s Quality and Regulatory Services Directorate where they are trained on the basics of green coffee quality. They also participate in an Inter-University Barista competition in order to understand and experience the value chain at all levels.

Mbula Musau from Utake Coffee and Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye, MD of UCDA at AFCA Conference in Uganda

The Uganda World Coffee Events (WCE) Barista Championships must have a representative of this program at the semifinals, which not only sets them up to work their way into the finals, but enables them decide where they wish to engage in future coffee careers. It is also a sure way to promote domestic consumption hence maximizing on both local and international trade of coffee.
Uganda is currently the 8th largest producer of coffee in the world, exporting an average of 4.6 million bags, with Robusta constituting 80 per cent and Arabica 20 per cent. Coffee contributes 30 per cent of Uganda’s total earnings. With such potential, UCDA has been taking the right approach. The Managing Director UCDA, Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye leads the team in thinking about every detail including the sustainability of the sector, being that it is the mainstay of more than 1.7 million households and a main foreign exchange earner for the country.
One of the institutions UCDA is working with is Utake Coffee Limited, on the effective incorporation of the youth of Uganda through training and certification. We believe that this will see the coffee sector thrive through the transformative initiatives it has put in place, and in line with the vision of attaining a production volume of 20 million bags by 2025.

Script edits: Laura Walusimbi, UCDA and Mueni Kithuka, Communications Consultant.
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