On the 6th of November 2015, the National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFÉ), with support from partner organizations in the coffee sector, organized the first inaugural National Coffee Festival that took place at the UMA Lugogo Grounds in Kampala, Uganda. The theme of the festival was ‘Youth and Coffee Innovations: An Avenue for Job Creation’. The coffee festival was characterized by a unique blend of cultural, economic and social events, which helped to generate an interest in the event beyond expectations.
There were over 3,000 coffee farmers and traders taking part in the event as public attendees at the event. The festival was officially opened by the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, the Hon. Tress Bucyanayandi, who stood in for the Chief Guest, the Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda. The festival started with young people and farmers parading in costume accompanied by banners and music, from the Coffee House on Jinja Road to Lugogo UMA Showground at 8.30 a.m. after being flagged off by Hon. Mathias Kasaamba, MP, Kakuuto County and Chairman, Parliamentary Coffee Platform. The parade was led by the Uganda Prisons Band. After arrival at the Showground the formal registration of participants took place.
The Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Abby Mukiibi assisted by the NUCAFÉ Executive Director, Mr. Joseph Nkandu, welcomed participants. The latter encouraged participants to visit the booths at the exhibition with the visiting farmers enthusiastically responding to opportunities to acquire new knowledge about the entire coffee value chain after engaging with the more than 20 exhibitors. The entertainment at the event was provided by the Uganda Prisons Band, the ‘Pearl Cultural Performers’, coffee farmer drama groups and performing young street artists who added to the diversity of the festival.
The National Coffee Festival demonstrated that coffee is indeed an African traditional social experience. There were various stakeholders in attendance; the Minister of Agriculture, the Agricultural Sectorial Committee of Parliament, the USAID Deputy Mission Director, NUCAFÉ’s Chairman and his Board, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) Market Information and Intelligence Manager. They each gave speeches that sought to encourage and empower young adults involved in the coffee value chain. The barista competitions were chaired by UCDA’s Ms. Judith Engena with young baristas competing in the preparation of a wide variety of tasty and distinctive coffees. The day was made even more interactive when students from 3 universities (Ndejje University, Kyambogo University and Ugandan Christian University, Mukono) showcased their ideas and innovations in what is termed as elevator pitching.
The festival also demonstrated the untapped potential of young adults involved in the coffee chain, which if exploited could transform the country in line with the National Coffee Policy1, the National Development Plan 2, Vision 2040 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. NUCAFE in line with the Prime Minister’s Speech will be hosting the 2nd Uganda National Coffee Festival on Friday 4th November, 2016 under the theme, “Skilling the Youth; the Nation Prospers”.
1The National Coffee Policy aims at supporting and strengthening coffee farmer organizations to participate effectively in all the stages of the coffee value chain, streamlining and strengthening existing coffee laws and regulations at all stages.