ZOMBO. Coffee buyers in Zombo have castigated their counterparts from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for bringing into the market poor quality coffee which they have vowed not to buy this time round.
Most coffee from the DRC often ends up in the business town of Paidha where bigger buyers station to buy it for export.
But over the past years, coffee quality from the DRC have been brought to question by some of the bigger buyers operating in the area. They include Kawacom, Kyagalanyi coffee Ltd, Okoro Holdings Ltd and Great Lakes.
Mr Aggrey Odong, the Paidha business community chairman said during a preseason coffee meeting organized by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) at Sky Lux Hotel in Paidha town council on Monday that traders have unanimously agreed to reject poor quality coffee.
He said much as there are still some challenges in the coffee value chain, quality has to some extent improved following intense monitoring by the UCDA team in the area.
"For us, we are going to reject poor quality coffee from both within and the DRC so that our image is cleared," Odong vowed.
He commended the UCDA for their tireless commitment in enforcing quality guidelines to be followed by the farmers and traders.
Mr Jenesio Onen, a coffee farmer from Akiir cell, Paidha town council said he tries so much to follow quality guidelines but sometimes, it is the buyers compromising quality by drying coffee in open spaces where human beings and animals walk through.
He implored the UCDA to gazette some areas in the town where traders can dry their coffee without it being contaminated by foreign agents.
"These people dry coffee where people walk and such coffee cannot be as clean as UCDA wants," he said.
Mr Jude Andama, the UCDA technical officer for West Nile said they are prepared to arrest traders who do not follow quality enhancement guidelines because coffee is food and must be treated with care.
He said traders have been shown where to dry their coffee and anyone found drying coffee in the town centre or by the road side will have the coffee confiscated and license withdrawn.
"We are very serious with quality and people who bring coffee from the DRC must adhere to the quality guidelines to be on the safer side," he said.
He added that things have changed for the better in regard to coffee quality despite some the challenges that are still visible.
According to Andama, some of challenges in coffee quality enhancement include among others; middle men, illegal stores, DRC coffee and picking of unripe cherries by farmers.
He said the higher the quality, the higher the price and this time farmers are having high coffee yields which will transform lives.
Last year, over 2 tons of poor quality coffee from the DRC were destroyed at Padea border post in Zeu Sub County by Ugandan traders with the help of the police.
The coffee which was brought into Uganda for sale was found stuffed with stones, bones, sand and chicken droppings among others.
The owner of the poor quality coffee was tasked to employ some people to sort the coffee and after days of work, the impurities weight over 500kgs.