Coffee traders have urged Government to explicitly explain the benefits farmers stand to get by getting registered if the National Coffee Bill 2019 is to see the light of the day.
They also want government to explain the intentions of registering coffee.
The call was made by Moses Kiningwire, Trade and Purchasing Manager of Kyagalanyi Coffee Limited while appearing before the Parliamentary Agriculture Committee today.
Clause 26 (1) of the Bill provides that the National Coffee Authority shall register all coffee farmers in Uganda.
Clause 26(2) says that a person can only be registered as a coffee farmer if, among others, the Coffee Authority has evaluated the land on which the coffee is to be grown and found that land suitable for that purpose. In other words, no person will be allowed to grow coffee unless they have a license to grow coffee on a particular piece of land.
“Let us register and ensure the benefits of why we are registering them on terms of economics, we look at finance first. If we don’t tell them that there is going to be benefit in their pockets, they are going to take it so wrong probably kill off what we are trying to do for them,” Kiningwire said.
He said government should come up with which benefits farmers will get like farm inputs and higher prices.
He gave an example of Kyagulanyi Cofeee Limited that registered farmers who are paid higher prices for their coffee.
Kiningwire told the Committee that many people are against registration of coffee farmers because of fear of Government using it as a vehicle to impose new taxes and called on Government to first organise the sector if the economy is to reap from advantages of coffee.
Kiningweire also informed lawmakers that they are against penalising farmers who neglect their gardens, arguing that government should first find out why any farmer should abandon their gardens because experience has shown that some farmers walk away from farming after becoming poor, old age or dead with no one in position to take over coffee growing.
He said: “Nobody puts up a farm and wants to see it in ruin; so many people have neglected farms because of different reasons even beyond their own control. So if you are going to penalize somebody for a neglected farm when he left the farm manager to do other things, whom are you going to blame?”
Further, clauses 35(1)&(3) say that the Authority shall issue a ‘coffee buyers’ license, and that nobody shall buy coffee without that license. This means that even if you may grow your coffee illegally without Government’s approval, nobody will be allowed to buy it from you without that person having a license.
Having that license, by extension, also means that a coffee buyer will be breaking the terms of the license if they purchase coffee from the ‘unregistered’ farmer.