A Kenyan coffee farmer tending his coffee/courtesy photo
The decision by Kenyan Government to merge the country’s coffee body with Agriculture Food Authority has backfired-if recent statistics is anything to go by.
In 2013, the Kenyan government took a bold step and merged the Country’s coffee Board with Agriculture Food Authority. At the time, the country was producing 130, 000 metric tons of coffee per annum. The latest data shows that the country is currently producing 40, 000 metric tons of coffee per year. This represents a decrease of 69.23% in a period of 10 years.
The development comes as Uganda Government considers making the same mistake of merging Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) with Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).
In fact, the Kenyan government is drafting the Coffee Bill to give back the Coffee Board autonomy and establish an autonomous coffee research institute among other considerations.
“We are now back to where it all started,” Prof. Joseph Kieyah, the Chairman, Coffee Sector Reforms in Kenya, told a recent two-day coffee dialogue on developing Uganda’s coffee value chain at Lake Victoria Serena Hotel, Kigo.
Prof. Kieyah was sharing his knowledge on the Coffee Auction System and Coffee Regulatory Reforms – Experiences and Lessons from Kenya.
He appealed to the Ugandan government to maintain UCDA’s autonomy to build on the successes already registered on the supply side and start focusing on demand side response.
“Coffee is a strategic commodity. It’s the second most traded commodity in the world (after oil) and the most popular beverage after water. So, UCDA has to remain autonomous,” Prof. Kieyah said.
Amb. Solomon Rutega while delivering a presentation on Institutional Repositioning of Coffee Regulation and Development – Experiences from Regional and International level, revealed that most African countries give Coffee authorities other priority crops to take care of. According to Rutega, coffee bodies in the region are in most cases assigned either cocoa or tea or both for regulation. Uganda is seeking to have cocoa given to UCDA for proper regulation.
At the close of the two-day dialogue, one of the recommendations was that UCDA should remain a stand-alone entity but with structural reforms to strengthen it to address emerging sector aspirations and challenges.
The Secretary in the Office of the President, Haji Yunus Kakande supported the move to have UCDA retained as autonomous.
“Government has a lot of bureaucracy yet this is a number one commodity (for Uganda in foreign exchange earnings) which needs a quick decision. Let’s be very strong on that one so that this organization can stand alone,” Kakande said.
According to the Coffee roadmap, Uganda expects to be producing 20 million bags of coffee per annum by 2030.