Government will register all coffee farmers across the country/Courtesy photo
Parliament Thursday reconsidered and passed the National Coffee Bill, 2018 as returned by the President in accordance with Article 91(3)(b) of the Constitution and Rule 142 of the Rules of Procedure.
President Yoweri Museveni last month returned the bill to parliament citing a few irregularities in the clauses regarding the appointment of chairperson of Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), Managing Director of UCDA and registration of farmers.
The chairperson of Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, Janet Okorie Moe said that they agree entirely with the proposals by the president and they have agreed that the board will be appointed by the minister and approved by cabinet.
“The members of the Board, except the Managing Director shall be appointed by the Minister,” Clause 14 (a) reads.
This is because Boards of all Government agencies are proposed by the Minister and approved by cabinet, and not by Parliament as had been adopted by the House.
According to the passed recommendations, the Minister shall in appointing members of the Board invite nominations from the respective institutions or organizations from whom the appointment shall be made.
This is justified on grounds that the appointment of other board members under this provision is by invitation of nominations, save for the board Chairperson.
The Board shall consist of a chairperson, a representative from the Ministry responsible for finance, a representative from the Ministry Responsible for agriculture, a representative from the Ministry responsible for trade, a representative of the coffee farmers, a representative of coffee processors, a representative of coffee exporters, a representative of coffee roasters, a representative of the national Agricultural Research organization and the managing director, who shall be an ex-officio member.
At least one-third of the members of the Board shall be women, one of whom shall be a representative from the value chain actors.
About the appointment of the Managing Director, the law if passed into law shall read: “There shall be a Managing Director of the Authority who shall be appointed by the Board, on such terms and conditions as the Board may determine.”
This because the appointment of the Managing Director by the Minister undermines the principle of separation of powers since the Minister is the appointing authority of the Board. The Managing Director is likely to owe allegiance to the appointing authority other than where he or she reports.
Okorie said that a coffee farmer should be registered as an individual not as a family to avoid incidents where some farmers may claim to have been registered as families.
She added that Agriculture Committee observes that the proposals by the President in the returned Clauses are similar to the positions as had been presented by the Committee in its Report to the House. “The changes arose from the debate on the Floor of the House,” she said.
The Bill aims to repeal and replace the Uganda Coffee Development Authority Act, Cap. 325, which was enacted in 1991 and only covered off-farm activities of marketing and processing, leaving on-farm activities like planting materials, nurseries, harvesting and post harvesting handling outside the scope of the law.
If passed into law, the law will help in comprehensive planning for coffee farmers when it comes to linking buyers and farmers, setting up irrigation systems, provision of planting materials and extension services.