Uganda’s Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries(MAAIF), Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja on Wednesday met with the Katikkiro of Buganda, Owek. Charles Peter Mayiga to have an agreed position on the Coffee Bill 2018.
Their meeting comes days after Mayiga criticized a proposal for the registration and licensing of coffee farmers as embedded in the National Coffee Bill currently before parliament.
The bill proposes the registration of farmers capturing details of the size of land, the number of coffee trees and particulars of the farmers, coffee buyers and sellers among others. The bill also proposes that land, where the coffee is to be grown shall be evaluated by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority to determine its suitability for coffee growing.
According to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority- UCDA board, the proposed registration of the farmers is meant to eliminate middlemen and guarantee the development of the coffee sector in the country.
But in his address to Buganda Kingdom Parliament (Lukiiko) on Monday, Mayiga objected to the proposed registration of farmers and a two-year jail sentence for farmers who neglect coffee plantations, labelling the proposals dangerous.
Mayiga says that the conditions are likely to suffocate the coffee industry and the Kingdom’s drive to encourage coffee production under an initiative locally known as ‘Emwanyi Terimba’.
“I am scared. This issue should be handled with care and we shall continue to offer guidance. I guess from coffee farmer’s, the government will now legislate herdsmen and how they should or shouldn’t handle their cattle and other products.” Mayiga said.
Last week, the National Coffee Research Institute-NaCORI also came out to reject the proposed registration and licensing of coffee farmers, saying it will disadvantage farmers and cripple the industry.
While appearing before the Agriculture Committee, the Director of Research in the National Coffee Research Institute, Dr Geoffrey Arinaitwe, said registering farmers is complicated. He explained that registration of farmers can’t work especially for smallholder ones. He says the bill shouldn’t be seen to discourage farmers as they will end up opting for other crops such as sugar cane and potatoes and abandon coffee. NaCORI rather supported the idea of supporting cooperative societies that can work with farmers.
Arinaitwe told MPs that registering farmers will affect the country’s target of exporting 20 million bags of coffee by 2022.
According to UCDA, Uganda’s Coffee exports in March 2018 amounted to 333,346 60-kilo bags worth USD 35.74 million. This comprised 224,036 bags worth USD 21 million of Robusta and 109,310 bags worth USD 13.88 million of Arabica coffee.