HomeAGRICULTURE‘National Coffee Act embedded on farmer registration to enhance coffee quality-says UCDA...

‘National Coffee Act embedded on farmer registration to enhance coffee quality-says UCDA Boss.

By Joshua Nahamya,

Mbarara.

Dr. Emmanuel lyamulemye, the Executive Director, Coffee Development Authority has revealed that clause 26 of the national coffee act has attracted Ugandans to several debates about the new law.

This comes after President Museveni assented to the National Coffee Act on August 31, 2021. And it came into force on the 13th of September 2021 upon being gazetted in the Uganda Gazette Vol. CXIV No. 68 as the National Coffee Act No. 17.

This was discussed during a virtual seminar organized by Uganda Agricultural Economics Association (UAEA) but convened by the Department of Agribusiness and Natural Resource Economics, Makerere University on Tuesday.

According to Assoc Prof Jackeline Bonabana, the seminar which was themed, “How The National Coffee Act 2021 is envisioned to transform the Ugandan Coffee Industry” was focused on analyzing gaps and gains entrenched within the new coffee law.

Dr lyamulemye said the president first bounced the new law in December 2020 to make some review on some of the specific clauses such as the appointment of the board, registration of coffee farmers, and the appointment of UCDA’s managing director.

lyamulumye who could not hide the joy for the achievement he has attained for the authority welcomed the new law saying that the National Coffee Act 2021 will repeal and replace the 1991 UCDA Act which had clauses that have been overtaken by events.

“I am very privileged to be presenting to you this important law in the history of Uganda but I must say that the National Coffee Bill is one of the most debated bills in the recent times because in August 2020 it was approved by parliament, it then went to the president to assent but in December 2020, H.E the President returned it with recommendations on some of the specific clauses which were pertaining” UCDA Boss explained

He says the new law is alluding to the neighboring countries that established a national coffee register for farmers and other value chain actors for the protection of the quality and good standards of coffee in the export market to increase the coffee prices that benefit a farmer.

“Apart from Vietnam all our neighboring countries have a farmer register need and for the case of Kenya their coffee act of 2001 is very comprehensive with farmer registration, Tanzania’s coffee law of 2003 is talking about farmer registration, Ethiopia their law which takes us back to 1994 is talking about farmer register. So, in order to assure quality this is one of the clauses we thought in harmonizing our laws with other coffee producers” lyamulemye emphasized

Dr lyamulemye confirmed that farmer registration will be free of charge to any farmer who grows coffee for the inspirations of coffee and farmer traceability.

“A person shall be registered only if at the time of registration is growing coffee not before. I would like to stress that there will be no fees to be charged on registration of farmers and no consequential financial obligations whether taxation or indirect cash payments”. Said lyamulemye

He adds that the new law provides for the continuity of UCDA as a regulator in the coffee subsector.

“The 2021 Coffee Act also provides the regulation of all on and off firm activities in the coffee value chain, provides staff of the authority, registration of coffee value chain actors and grading of coffee, coffee value addition and domestic coffee consumption among others” UCDA, ED explained

He says the new is different in that it tackles off and on-farm activities which have been disastrous to the quality of coffee in Uganda.

“The coffee act enacted in1991 looked at pre-export but over time it was seen that coffee quality is actually affected from the farm a reason as to why the National Coffee Act 2021 is looking at the comprehensive of all the value chain starting from the farm including export and also consumption of coffee” lyamulemye explained

He however warned violators of the coffee law to face penalties as prescribed in the National coffee act 2021.

“Those who don’t observe the regulatory requirements thus the issue of penalties come in. for example, a nursery operator who works with out registered is compromising the quality of the planning manuals and therefore when is not registered it is an offense. Those who distribute substandard or diseased materials will be spreading the diseases which is also an offense punishable by paying a fine not exceeding one hundred currency points or a term of imprisonment not exceeding four years or both” said lyamulemye

Speaking during the discussion, Martin Fowler, an agriculture economist expressed worry about the farmers’ confidential data provided to UCDA.

“The whole confidentiality of this data to me is a worrying aspect, like who is going to have access to this data? I think we need to be a little bit careful about the use of this data because some farmers providing information need to know that it’s going to be used by UCDA alone but not to be used for other trouble things” Fowler said

He adds that clause 32 of the Coffee Act does not specify how often are the farmers’ registration and coffee dealers’ licenses.

“The issue of registration goes on to licensing and I know some of these have already got licenses and others are going to be licensed but the law is not clear how often, whether its annual or life time registration” Fowler emphasized

Joseph Nkandu, Executive Director NUCAFE, also Embraced the enabling law claiming that it has been overdue to guarantee coffee quality in Uganda.

He, however, encouraged UCDA to work with the private sector and other agencies for the effective implementation of the amended Coffee Act 2021.

“We need to ensure that we take a system change in our approach to ensure that we are able to achieve what we want. What will be most important at the end is implementation which cannot only be done by one entity” Nkandu advised

According to Asaph Muhangi a coffee farmer in Ndeija Rwampara, the coffee law was unfortunately bent towards UCDA instead of considering the coffee farmers which should be the key beneficiaries.

He says coffee farmers were not consulted that it’s only scholars who sat and dreamed about the law he termed a pigeon law that should be rebelled by farmers.

UCDA is a government agency mandated to promote and oversee the development of the entire coffee industry through research, quality assurance, and improved marketing.

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