After promising to address the country on the controversial coffee deal two weeks back, during his address on rising commodity prices, President Yoweri Museveni has fulfilled his promise today.
During his State of the National Address today, at Kololo Independence Grounds, President Museveni highlighted why the country needs Italian investor Enrica Pinetti’s coffee deal.
The President said, “With coffee, I tried so many groups–Nescafe, Nestle, Tata, Bancafe (Banya), Star Coffee (Tz-Bukoba), to no avail. When I met Madame Pinetti, she had no idea about coffee. I, however, could see that she had a wide network of contacts. I asked her to look into coffee.
“After sometime, she came back with a positive report that it was doable. Therefore, those attacking that project, are supporters of okukenenula, (ekyejwiiso) of Africa –perpetual bleeding. If they were not, they would have responded to our call of 1986 and after, to come forward and add value to coffee and seek government assistance.
“Instead of attacking the saviour (oyo anataasa), if you are genuine, join the liberation effort. It is criminal for anybody to continue arguing for the continued export of raw-materials in Africa when there is 90% more value in that product that you are giving to outsiders.”
The president disclosed that he suggested the deal to Pinetti as a way of adding value to Uganda’s coffee so that the country and farmers dealing in coffee production reap more.
“I started the struggle to add value to our coffee because our cadres who were deployed there told me of the value differentials between our coffee sold as beans and what it would get when processed as soluble coffee, or any other type of final coffee, to be consumed. At that time, the kg of beans of coffee would give us USD1, while the same coffee processed would give USD14,” the President said.
He added, “Many times in meetings, I would point out that those who say they are donors, are actually donees, because, in every kg, Uganda was giving USD13 dollars to the outside World and also donating jobs. Whose children roast the green beans and grind them to powder in Europe? Are they our children? Whose electricity is used?
The President gave a breakdown of how coffee farmers are being exploited and what it means if the country starts processing it’s own coffee, “I have checked the latest figure. There is a type of robusta coffee that is known as Screen Sold as green coffee, after removing the skin, apparently, our people are being paid USD 3.34 per kg. When a kg is roasted in London and ground, it shrinks to 700grams and packed into packets of 300grams each. Each packet is sold at USD12, which means that 700grammes may fetch about USD30. Therefore, for what Uganda gets USD 3.34, the smart people of UK, get USD30.
“Each coffee bean that is sold in supermarkets abroad, takes away our phosphorous, our nitrogen, our potassium and other nutrients for 10% of the value at which the final consumer buys the product. 90% of the value of that product from our soils and 100% of the accompanying jobs that go with the roasting, grinding and packaging of the product at that stage, are all donated to the outsiders. The total value of coffee in the World is US$460 billion. However, of this figure, the coffee growing countries only take USD 25 billion.”
“Exporters of unprocessed raw-materials, where it is economic to add value, are exploiters. When we de-hust, roast, grind and pack here, Uganda will get more dollars and we shall also pay higher prices to our farmers. The farmers are now cheated because the biggest beneficiaries from our coffee are the external roaster, grinders and packers of coffee. The story about blending etc. is nonsense. That blending etc. is nonsense. That blending can be done here. We have both Robusta and Arabica,” the President detailed.
“In any case, I hear that our good robusta is used to blend inferior coffees from other areas, but in Europe. It is this centuries-oldhaemorrhage that the Hon. Abed Bwanika was so passionately supporting here some weeks ago. It is this haemorrhage that the NRM opposed from the beginning in the point 5 of the NRM’s 10 points programme already referred to. We oppose this haemorrhage in all the raw-materials,” he said.
“The continued export of raw-materials by Africa is the new form of slavery. Export of value in exchange for no value (mirrors, combs for our ignorant chiefs in exchange for slaves) or for little value like now –10% value of the final product. The export of raw-materials and slaves for the last 600 years is the cause of this stunting (okuningama).”
The president disclosed that since 1986, he has been trying to get value adders to all Uganda’s raw-materials.
“Sometimes I succeeded like with milk (Sameer, Brookside, Pearl, Kagate, etc.), Cotton (Nytil, Fine Spinners), wood (plywood in Katuugo), Palm Oil (Bidco, etc.), sugar (many companies),Petroleum(Refinery), Bananas (Dr. Muranga, Kyamuhangyire etc.), Skins and Hides(Nakyobe), Gold (six refineries),” he added.
By Hope Kalamira