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Uganda Commissions New Coffee Processing Plant in Rukungiri

15-April-2012

The plant will machine-dry the coffee cherries as soon as harvested and process them for export to USA and Japan.

Tobias Kibuuka, 49, a resident of Nyakaishenyi village, Rukungiri district, who abandoned coffee growing years ago, says he’s going to plant again. A new coffee processing plant commissioned on March 24 has given him new hope for financing, extension services and a fairer market.

Managing Director Hans De Heer, who owns the factory under his company Nitubaasa Ltd (meaning Yes We Can), said he will partner with farmers like Kibuuka to produce more coffee for his factory.

The plant will machine-dry the coffee cherries as soon as harvested and process them for export to USA and Japan.

De Heer said they expect to process about 80 metric tonnes of coffee for export this year, and the amount will jump to 200 tonnes in 2013.

“The number will keep going up as we get more farmers supplying us with coffee,” he said. “Farmers have been selling their coffee to anyone but now we are entering into a partnership which will enable them to sell to us directly.”

De Heer said the factory will buy a kilo of coffee cherries at between Shs 900 - 1,000, higher than the Shs 600 middlemen paid as they took advantage of the farmers’ lack of an alternative market.

“The farmers who will earn more and be better able to meet their needs,” he said. The factory will also be assured of a regular supply.

Located 50 kilometers away from the main road to Rukungiri trading centre, the Nitubaasa Coffee Mill sits on 10 acres of land previously occupied by Nyakaishenyi Coffee Cooperative Society, whose factory fell into disrepair as the coffee business dwindled.

De Heer acquired the land on a 10-year (renewable) lease from the cooperative and injected over Shs 160 million in the new plant. The plant takes in seven tonnes of raw cherries and produces 1.5 tonnes of dry parchment coffee, ready for export.

At the start, the plant will employ over 80 people - skilled and unskilled - but with time, De Heer said the number will grow.

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