McKinsey to advise Uganda on coffee policy

The government has contracted McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, to help in the crafting of a roadmap that will outline how Uganda can increase coffee production and exports by 2020.

McKinsey was brought onboard to work on an initiative called the “Coffee 2020 Lab,” which started on 13 March and will run to 7 April 2017.

The initiative is meant to “articulate realistic but ambitious goals for our coffee sector, identify roadblocks that have prevented us from growing faster up to now, and develop a tangible action plan that takes into account lessons from the identified roadblocks.”

Related: Uganda needs a caffeine fix: insights from Vietnam’s coffee market success

The details of the roadmap, as well as McKinsey’s role, are outlined in a letter to coffee sector stakeholders signed by Ezra Suruma, the head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit and Nicolas Denis, a partner at McKinsey.

“From 27-31 March 2017, we will conduct a ‘Rapid Delivery Lab,’ an innovative process where about 20 participants with various expertise in the coffee value chain will identify and prioritise issues, and design a tangible action plan to overcome these issues,” the letter says.

Mr Denis “advises government bodies on sustainable economic development, agriculture, and food security, especially in developing and emerging countries,” according to his profile on McKinsey’s website.

His Linkedin profile says he is the “core leader of McKinsey’s Food & Agriculture practice, the global leader of the McKinsey Center for Agriculture Transformation and Food Security and the leader of ACRE, McKinsey’s advanced analytics solution in agriculture.”

Uganda aims to increase coffee production to 20 million 60-kilogram bags a year by 2020, in line with a directive issued by President Yoweri Museveni in October 2015. Currently, annual production is 3.32 million bags (exported in the previous coffee year).

One of the ways the government hopes to steer the economy to a lower middle-income status by 2020 is by improving production and productivity in agriculture. To achieve this, its strategic plan calls for “interventions along the value chains of different prioritised commodities such as coffee, tea, horticultural crops, citrus etc.”

The government says it will supply 300 million coffee seedlings to farmers for planting each year between 2016/17 and 2018/19 as part of its efforts to increase coffee production to 20 million bags by 2020. The initiative is spearheaded by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority, while the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, Operation Wealth Creation, and local governments are partners.

Coffee is Uganda’s most valuable export commodity and contributed 17.7% to the total value of exports ($2.2bn) in 2015.