ZOMBO. The Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) has sealed off a coffee wet mill belonging to Kyagulanyi Coffee Limited and at least two coffee stores in Abanga and Paidha sub-counties over failure to follow quality assurance guidelines.
The wet mill located in Padolo parish, Erussi sub-county was according to UCDA operating in an unhygienic environment while the locked stores had no palates which all undermine efforts towards coffee quality enhancement.
The UCDA task force comprising the agricultural police from the ministry of agriculture was on a three-day-long assessment and monitoring of the coffee value chain in Zombo and part of Nebbi district.
The activity that ended on Thursday also saw the Kyagulanyi wet mill station manager Mr Omar Wamboga arrested and poor-quality coffee impounded.
Wamboga was taken to Nebbi police station where he was detained and on Thursday released on police bond.
Mr Jude Andama, the UCDA regional technical officer for Northern Uganda said Wamboga will be taken to court because his mismanagement of the coffee wet mill contravenes section 28 of the coffee regulation Act of 1994.
"We are going to take him to court on account of his failure to follow our guidelines even after several warnings", he said.
Andama said coffee farmers and buyers are prohibited from drying coffee parchment along roadsides to prevent other impurities like dust among others from contaminating it while coffee stores must strictly accommodate coffee without other commodities.
The visibly worried Wamboga pleaded for pardon in vain saying they are overwhelmed by high coffee yield this season and this has consequently forced them to operate beyond their capacity.
" We are operating beyond our capacity because there is too much Coffee to buy and this wet station has the capacity to handle only 8 tonnes of red cherries per day but we have gone to 20 tonnes which is far beyond", Wamboga explained.
Mr Fidel Bakomeza, the UCDA quality assurance officer said coffee is food and any mess along its value chain affects Uganda's coffee profit margin on the international market.
He said government through UCDA is committed to enforcing quality enhancement along coffee value chain to enable Ugandan coffee compete favourably on the international market.
"For that matter we shall continue to punish those who violate quality guidelines and revoke license of defiant traders among other penalties", he said.
Bakomeza said much as there are still challenges along the coffee value chain, things have so much improved following routine monitoring of all actors dealing in coffee.
Mr Grace Ssewanyana, the agricultural police officer warned farmers and traders dealing in coffee not to take coffee for granted because it is one of the economically viable crops for poverty eradication.
He said they will leave no stone unturned until people begin to adhere to quality assurance guidelines set by the government.
"Coffee is not only a cash crop but also food and if its value chain is tempered with, the end result may be a rejection of Ugandan coffee abroad which will negatively impact on farmers", he said.
A similar activity was also carried out by UCDA last year and a couple of stores were sealed off while some coffee traders were cautioned.