KAMPALA — President Museveni has ascented to the National Coffee Act, 2021 that provides for registration of coffee farmers by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA).
Clerk to Parliament Adolf Mwesige in a September 02 notice to the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, and other officials, indicated that the President had ascented to the Bill, passed by the 10th Parliament on August 5, 2020.
The Act calls for the registration of farmers by the UCDA entailing capturing details of the size of land, number of coffee trees, particulars of a farmer, coffee buyers, sellers and nursery bed operators.
The Act repeals and replaces 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.
Its on this note that MPs in the 11th Parliament led by Mbarara North MP, Robert Mwesigwa Rukaari are opposing the government plan to phase out UCDA and have it’s mandate and activities taken back to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, saying the programmes for the coffee farmers will suffer.
According to the plans for the rationalization of government agencies and ministries, UDCA is one of the 77 government agencies that are supposed to be phased out as part of interventions to reduce the cost of public administration and minimize duplication of roles.
In February 2021, Cabinet approved recommendations for the rationalization of government agencies, commissions and authorities. The overall objective, the government says is to eliminate structural ambiguities, functional duplication, overlaps, and wasteful expenditure and realize short term and long term savings.
However, some Members of Parliament have defended some agencies and authorities, and warned that returning them to parent ministries would cripple progress.
Speaking during a Parliamentary plenary session, Mr. Mwesigwa Robert Rukaari of Mbarara City North warned that the government would be shooting its self in the foot with such consideration.
Mr. Rukaari said that rationalization and marging is very good is but from an interprenur point of view, he wondered why would one make UCDA, a department under MAAIF. “In Africa, Uganda is number one coffe exporters, we produce more than 9 million bags of coffee whereas Ehiopia is number on in production. They have more local consumption which we don’t. However, Uganda, for god’s sake, why would one dare take such an authority under a MAAIF Ministry?” he said.
Citing an example of Kenya in 2014, Rukaari said the neigbouring country later regretted the blunder before repealing the Coffee Board act to return an authority after disastrous effects on coffee production.
“Whereas I support especially electricity companies merging them and forming one authority, like that, similarly, we would also have one authority which will also cater fall cash crops for example cocoa. I recommend we have an independent authority for cash crops especially coffee and we don’t kill our cash cow,” he said.