After another wonderful breakfast at mubs, we went to Savannah coffee processing plant. After a brief discussion about cameras, as this seems to becoming a theme among a few of our visits, we began our tour of the facility. This facility is owned entirely by Ugandans, and supplied by the local farmers. The beans are grown all across the country, in the central area, where we are; it is the Robusta coffee that is grown. Western Uganda is one of the only places were both Robusta and Arabica beans can be grown. In addition this facility processes the local sorghum, wheat and barley.
This facility buys its coffee beans directly from the farmers, about ten thousand small farmers; the plant will buy as little as one kilogram provided it meets the standards necessary. The relationship between the plant and the farmers is a key part of the operations for the process, seeds are given to the farmers for planting every year and this relationship is this locations competitive advantage over other processing plants. Each and every bag of beans that enters the facility is tested for quality and contaminants and weighed before being processed.
The process starts with sorting by size, both for quality and foreign material, the larger beans get more coffee and therefore worth more money. As the beans continue through the process all of the rocks and dirt are removed. Once he beans are ‘clean’ they are dried to twelve percent moisture content from about twenty percent when the beans arrive. The beans now sorted by size are then sorted by color and then density; after about a sixty-day process the different results are packaged into sixty-kilo bags for shipping free-on-board to Kenya where they are shipped by the thirty to forty distributors to Europe, Asia, and America primarily.
Under the lense of sustainable development coffee production in Uganda hits all three areas, but focuses on economic the most. There are of course the obvious economic impacts directly tied to the process such as the farmers and plant facility workers, but there are aspects that are not quite so obvious. An example is the Ugandan coffee market, the facility we toured exports about ninety-nine point five percent of what it processes. Practically none is consumed locally, the coffee is available in most local markets as well as in restaurants, unlike America, however, I have only seen two coffee shops since we arrived. Knowing that Uganda used to be a British colony, tea is the drink of choice over coffee, and Ugandan tea is very good. From a person who does not drink nor really like coffee all that much, the coffee we had at the facility was rather good.
Is there room and a way for a primarily tea drinking nation to accept coffee as a daily drink? Is coffee production sustainable in a nation that does not consume it?