The Sorting Hat
The Proposed Creation of Ugandan Centers of Excellence
Beans from the Pearl
As the famous children’s book series and film franchises of “Harry Porter” comes to an end, readers of the book will always remember the books lead character’s (Harry Porter’s) first day at the Hogwarts School and his encounter with the magical and enchanting “Sorting Hat”.
“The Sorting Hat”, an all knowing & wise cap, would be placed on new year one students heads and just by looking at their qualities, character and weaknesses would decide which of the four houses they would spend the rest of their time at school.
Harry Porter naturally went to Gryffindor, the house of the brave, lion-hearted people who would be heroes one day. His arch enemy Draco Malfoy, went to Slytherin, the house of people who would become bad evil wizards one day.
On the 22nd of July 2011, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority invited various national stakeholders to a meeting to introduce us to a different form of “sorting hat” for good quality coffee, The Uganda Centre of Coffee Excellence.
The meetings agenda was to initiate stakeholders into the process of creating three centers of Excellence of coffee in Uganda whose aim would be to deploy and implement a quality assurance system that focuses on identification and differentiation of high quality coffee lots.
This follows tremendous efforts and trainings done by the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) & EAFCA with support from the USAID program in the country in developing the specialty Robusta Protocols.
The Uganda or National Centre of Excellence will be based in Kampala and will be responsible for carrying out applied research that focuses on the quality and the value of the genetic pool, develop a culture of excellence in the Uganda coffee industry, certify specialty Arabica and Fine Robusta lots on behalf of CQI and promote differentiated Uganda coffee.
Two regional centers shall be established as pilots in the hope of being rolled out in the future if successful and these centers shall be “The Robusta Centre” based at the District Agriculture and Training Centre (DATIC) at Kamenyamigo in Masaka and “Arabica Centre” located at Buginyanya Coffee Research Meteorological Station which is at the heart of Bugisu coffee producing region.
The main focus of these two centers will be technically improving coffee quality through applied research and training producers on quality related matters, develop a regional culture of excellence, and identify lots with the potential of achieving quality certification, premiums and ensure traceability.
The key aspect that arose from the meeting was the fact that although UCDA will be the leading institution in development and execution of this program, other institutions and sectors will be incorporated at different levels for example the innovation committee will have key coffee specialists like researchers (from COREC), academia’s among others that will supervise the centre applied research agenda and the R&D project results.
Their vision is to become catalysts and articulation centers for the development of a culture of coffee excellence in the country and the producing regions, bridging the gap between actual & potential quality and developing a specialty coffee market paying high premiums for a large amount of the production.
Over the past two years, hard impacting projects such as these have began to reshape the Ugandan coffee landscape. This push by Ugandan Stakeholders to secure this national crop’s future is both challenging and interesting to watch.
This “Sorting Hat” is one of the many projects showing that excellence is clearly on everyone’s mind and hopefully will be in everyone’s cup.
About Beans from the Pearl
In this blog, our correspondents report on the developments withUganda, better known famously by the name given to it by Sir Winston Churchill – “The Pearl of Africa”