Celebrating Uganda’s Special Coffee Varieties, the third edition of the Slow Food Coffee Festival, will take place at Maluku Ground in Mbale, Eastern Uganda, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, February 17 and 18. The event will launch a network of producers of native Ugandan coffee varieties at risk of extinction.
For more information about the work that Slow Food Uganda does to safeguard traditional coffee production, take a look at the video on the side.
This year the event focuses on the rich biodiversity of Ugandan native coffee varieties, to promote their economic and cultural value as well as the role of small-scale coffee producers. The aim of the festival is to build a network of special Ugandan coffees, which will include all the custodian communities of these coffees.
The Festival will also serve as an occasion to launch the new Mount Elgon Nyasaland Coffee Slow Food Presidium, which gathers together producers who still proudly preserve some very rare, decades-old plants, cultivated since the 1940s. This is the second Presidium dedicated to a coffee variety in Uganda, the other being the Presidium for Luwero Kisansa Coffee.
110 small-scale coffee farmers from 10 Terra Madre food communities and
representatives from the Presidia for Luwero Kisansa Coffee and Mount Elgon Nyasaland Coffee will participate in the event, along with coffee roasters and farmers (who are involved in the Manafwa Earth Market). Students from the 12 Slow Food school gardens in the region will also attend the event to learn more about the richness of Ugandaâ€™s biodiversity and the work and knowledge of local farmers.
The festival will start with an opening ceremony at the presence of Edward Mukiibi (President Slow Food Uganda and vice president of Slow Food International), the Town Clerk Mbale Municipal council, Hon. Nakayenze Conny (Women MP Mbale District), Mr. Magolofa Khawuka (Coordinator Mount Elgon Nyasaland Coffee Presidium), and Hon. Welishe Micheal Kafabusa (State Minister for Trade and Industry).
Visitors will be able to explore the coffee production chain at a Slow Food producers market, as well as through tastings and meetings. The festival program includes workshops in which farmers, distributors, baristas, and others will share their knowledge and experiences.
Uganda is the second largest coffee producer in Africa and home to several native varieties. Coffee plays a substantial economic role in many households: About 5.5 million Ugandans (out of a total population of about 41.5 million) derive their living from the crop. However, local consumption of coffee produced in Uganda is low and most of the crop is exported.
Today in Uganda there are 6 Slow Food Presidia, 81 Terra Madre Food Communities, over 300 Slow Food Gardens, 3 Earth Markets (in Mukono, Manafwa, and Lira), and 34 products listed on the Ark of Taste (the Slow Food catalogue of endangered food products in need of protection). Seventeen Ugandan chefs have joined the Slow Food Chefs Alliance, a network of chefs committed to promoting local producers and keeping food traditions alive.