KAMPALA- Traders in coffee have on July 23, urged Government to come out and explain the intentions behind the registration of coffee farmers in a bid to save the National Coffee Bill 2019.
The plea was made by Moses Kiningwire, Trade and Purchasing Manager of Kyagalanyi Coffee Limited while appearing before the Parliamentary Agriculture Committee saying that although the players in the sector have welcomed government’s decision to register farmers as this will bring order in the sector, the Bill stands to lose out on its objectives.
Clause 26 (1) of the Bill provides that the National Coffee Authority shall register all coffee farmers’ in Uganda. This literally means that unregistered farmers will be growing coffee illegally. Clause 1 defines a coffee farmer as a person who grows coffee for commercial purposes.’ How many people have really been growing it for domestic purposes?
“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.” He explained,
Clause 26(2) stipulates 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.
Further, clauses 35(1)and(3) state 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 unless the buyer is officially licensed by government. Having that licence, by extension, also means that a coffee buyer will be breaking the terms of the license if they purchase coffee from you the ‘unregistered’ farmer.
He 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, they have called on Government to first organise the sector if they are to reap from the advantages of coffee on the economy.
Mr Kiningwire also says that government should come up with which benefits they are meant like farm inputs and gave an example of Kyagulanyi Cofeee Limited that registered farmers who are set to benefit from bonuses as they stand to earn higher incomes from their coffee.
Mr Kiningweire also informed the legislators that they are against penalising farmers who neglect their gardens saying that government should first find out why farmers habitually abandon their gardens, because experience has shown that some farmers desert coffee farming due to poverty, old age, or in the event of a farmer’s death which usually leaves a vacuum.
“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?” he remarked.