By Mike Ssegawa

Sudan has sent a team of experts to verify the compliance of Ugandan coffee with the new standards kit the Khartoum government has set before coffee is shipped to their country.

By sending a team to Uganda, Sudan wants to ensure the coffee exported to their country meets the new requirements.

Sudan is the leading importer of Ugandan coffee for the last 15 years, but has raised the bar for coffee originating from Uganda. The Sudanese want the Uganda National Bureau of Standards to inspect all coffee entering their country.

However, they have required Uganda to set up additional testing laboratories by June 2018 which will test the coffee before it is shipped to Sudan. The coffee is expected to meet a higher standard if it is to continue accessing the market.

“Sudan is the biggest consumer of Ugandan coffee in Africa,” says Kananura Edmud Kyerere, director quality and regulations services at the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA). That is why Uganda has to comply with the guidelines, he said.

Uganda sells between 15 to 20 per cent of its total exports to Sudan, which means about a million bags of the country’s 4.5 million bags end up in that destination.

The Sudanese team of  experts led by Engineer Zakaria M. Suliman Salih is set to write a report on Ugandan coffee after this verification exercise.

During the exercise, Engineer Zakaria’s team with staff of the Sudanese embassy in Kampala, will check on Luweero coffee farmers, standards laboratories in Uganda, coffee factories as well as the coffee business community.

Khartoum gave Uganda up to June 2018 to set up addition laboratories to inspect the standards of coffee which goes into Sudan.

“We are ready for the inspection,” said Dr Ben Manyindo, executive director of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards at their new office in Bweyogerere in Kira Municipality. “Our standards are actually beyond international standards”, he emphasized.

Engineer Zakaria assured his Ugandan counterpart that their visit was about facilitating trade between the two countries, not, to create barriers.

“Ugandan coffee has a good reputation in Sudan,” said Zakaria, explaining that Sudanese tribes in the Eastern part of the country prefer Ugandan coffee to any coffee during their traditional ceremonies or home consumption.

“We have come to assess the processes such as growing, drying, processing, storing and packaging of coffee before it arrives in Sudan,” he said of his mission.

UCDA’s Kananura said Ugandan coffee was good to go with physical assessments but they have set up laboratories to comply as required by the Sudanese because it was a huge market.