KAMPALA – The President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has on Thursday, July 18 trashed the Katikiro of Buganda Charles Peter Mayiga’s statements against the National Coffee Bill.
The President lashed out at the Katikiro while he was updating the nation on wealth creation at Nakasero.
“The license of the ‘emwanyi’, there is no license. I heard this Katikiro telling lies about that. But I sent a message to somebody that you should stop that nonsense,” the president noted.
He added that there is no licensing but rather registration of coffee farmers.
“There is no license for coffee growers. The Katikkiro of Buganda should stop talking about it. What is happening is registration of farmers and the reason is exporting, for traceability,” he said.
The Katikiro on Monday, July 15 criticized the proposal for the registration and licensing of coffee farmers and a two-year jail sentence for farmers who neglect coffee plantations as it is embedded in the bill while addressing the Buganda Kingdom ‘lukiiko’.
“I am scared. This issue should be handled with care and we shall continue to offer guidance. I guess from coffee farmers, the government will now legislate herdsmen and how they should or shouldn’t handle their cattle and other products.”Premier Mayiga said.
About the bill
The National Coffee Bill is intended to replace the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) Act 1991, which was only limited to covering the marketing and processing stages of coffee.
In drafting the Bill, the government was concerned by the continued compromising of quality of coffee by farmers through harvesting raw beans instead of ripe ones and poor drying, which led to Uganda’s coffee losing market internationally.
“There is a need to regulate the coffee value chain as is done in other jurisdictions, especially to include the on-farm activities, alongside the off-farm ones in regard to the generation of planting materials, harvesting and drying of coffee, to improve on the quality of coffee that goes to both the local and international market,” the Bill States.
The regulator of the sector, according to the Bill, will be Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), which will register all coffee farmers for purposes of monitoring and regulation.
UCDA will then supervise the land on which the farmer intends to grow coffee to assess its suitability.
This registration will be entirely free and each registered farmer will be issued with an identification number, which may be withdrawn should he or she flout the procedures.
According to Bill, the government will channel information or materials about coffee to only registered farmers.
The Bill has also proposed tougher sanctions for those who flout the new procedures.
For example, the Bill states that farmers found operating an unauthorized nursery bed, selling or distributing coffee seedlings, harvesting immature coffee beans or poorly drying and storing them face a fine of 48 currency points (about UGX900,000) or a two-year prison sentence.
Other offences, which will attract a maximum sentence of 120 currency points (about Shs2.4m) or five-year jail term, include drying coffee on bare ground and processing coffee without a license.
The Government target on coffee production is to export 20 million bags by 2025.
Official figures from UCDA indicate that Uganda currently exports 401,930 bags to the international market annually.