The European Union is the biggest market for Uganda’s coffee. The EU wants all farmers registered for traceability purposes
A number of coffee stakeholders are concerned about Government’s slow pace in addressing the European Union demands/regulations that requires that coffee being extorted to the EU market isn’t grown on deforested land.
Consequently, Abdulhu Byakatonda (Workers MP) has raised concern over the looming ban that is likely to be imposed on coffee exports to the EU if Government doesn’t ensure that all coffee grown in Uganda isn’t grown on deforested land, after revealing that the country only has one year to put in place the national coffee traceability system.
“In December 2022, the European Union Parliament passed a law barring products that are from deforestation zones from entering their market. Apparently, our coffee is affected and European Union consumes 60% of the coffee grown in Uganda. What is required is that we form a national coffee traceability system. This requires Shs35bn and they should do the mapping of all coffee zone areas in the country. We are left with 12 months and we shall be no more, we shall not be able to access that market, so I beg that Government treats this matter with urgency,” Byakatonda said.
However, the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja assured Parliament that the issue will be handled during the merger and rationalization of Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) which is proposed to revert back to the Ministry of Agriculture.
“We are handling rationalization and I know Government is handling this matter where we are having UCDA rationalized, I don’t know whether what he is proposing can be handled after rationalization. We shall have to study the matter. We shall continue looking for all opportunities across the globe and have our coffee across the world,” said Nabbanja.
It should be recalled that in January 2024, Janet Okori-Moe, Chairperson, Parliament’s Agriculture Committee while appearing before the Budget Committee to present the report for the agricultural sector on the 2024/25 national budget framework paper, indicated the need by Government to provide Shs35bn on the installation of a coffee traceability system which is intended to monitor the quality of coffee produced in Uganda.
According to Okori-Moe, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) is seeking to establish a national traceability system in order to comply with regulations by European Union that bars the production of agriculture products like coffee from deforested areas and the traceability system will be used to register coffee value chain actors (farmers, nursery operators, processors, roasters and exporters).
“It is one of the key regulations of the European Union for coffee exportation. UCDA requires Shs35Bn for establishment of this system but no funds were provided in the budget for 2024/24,” said Okori-Moe.
It should however be noted that the issues of registration and traceability had been discussed and even put in the National Coffee Act 2021, long before the EU directive.
This is a matter of urgency because the EU takes most of Uganda’s coffee and the country can only abide by the market demands since even getting alternatives in the short run might be impossible.
The development comes at the time UCDA reported that coffee exports in 2023 totaled 6.12 million bags worth US$965.14 million (UGX3.678Trn) compared to 5.63 million bags worth US$ 860.45 million (Shs3.278Trn) earned in 2022.