BUKOMANSIMBI. Coffee processing factory owners in Bukomansimbi District have opposed the new rules and regulations issued by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), saying they are not realistic.
“Some of us use coffee processing machines which we acquired on loans that we are still servicing. Instructing us to install John Gordon machines in just three months is very unfair,” Mr Sulaiman Bukenya, a coffee processor in Bukomansimbi District, said.
While in a meeting with Bukomansimbi South MP Deogratious Kiyingi in Bukomansimbi Town last weekend, owners of coffee processing firms blamed UCDA for not putting into consideration the time and resources spent by farmers before destroying their coffee and other property.
The new guidelines also require a factory operator to do away with semi-permanent structures in which coffee husks are currently stored.
They asked government to extend soft loans to them to purchase the required new machines and tarpaulins on which they can dry coffee beans.
“We need government to extend soft loans to us so that we can buy the required machines,” Mr Leonard Lumala, the chairman of coffee factory operators in Bukomansimbi District, said.
Recently, UCDA destroyed more than six tonnes of coffee, arrested some farmers and more than 150 coffee factories in the sub region were closed for more than two months for operating without licences and below safety standards in addition to processing unripe coffee beans. However, the factories were later reopened after the owners fulfilled the necessary requirements.
Mr Kiyingi said UCDA officials need to be educated about many things which they seem not to be aware of.
“Farmers no longer leave husks at the factories where they process their coffee because they use them as fertilisers for their plantations,” Mr Kiyingi said, adding that forcing the operators to construct permanent husk collection chambers would be useless.
But he warned the farmers against harvesting green coffee beans, drying coffee on bare ground and processing half-dried coffee.
Mr Joseph Ssentamu, the UCDA coordinator in Masaka sub region said phasing out of old coffee processing machines is still a proposal and would be communicated to the processors at an appropriate time.
He insisted that factories which currently operate without standard husk collection chambers allow dust to spill over, polluting the processed cherries . UCDA has in the last six years been closing down coffee factories that don’t meet standards. Last year, all coffee factories in Kayunga District were shut down for a week, for processing immature coffee.
In 2013, over 50 factories were affected in Luweero, Mubende, Kiboga, Mpigi ,Mityana and Gomba districts.
According to Coffee Regulations (1994), coffee farmers and dealers are supposed to harvest only red ripe cherries, drying the harvested coffee on raised chambers or tarpaulins and factories must have cemented floors.