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Controversy over National Coffee Bill



Kampala, Uganda | PATRICIA AKANKWATSA | One of Uganda’s favourite crop, coffee, could soon be heavily regulated as the government takes a step to amend the existing law.

The proposed law, National Coffee Bill, 2018, seeks to regulate all on-farm and off-farm farm activities in the coffee value chain, repealing the existing law – the Uganda Coffee Development Authority Act, 1991– that only looked at off-farm activities.

But the people familiar with the law and investments say a regulation alone is not a solution to the current challenges facing the country’s coffee industry.

Robert Kirunda, an advocate of the High Court and a lecturer at Makerere University says the Bill does not spell out its main objectives.

“Is it to attract or repel people from the coffee sector? If it is to attract, then it needs more careful scrutiny. You just can’t pass a law without incentives and facilitation,” he told The Independent in interview.

“The whole Bill has a different motive. What kind of farmer are you going to register? We have farmers with two acres, others with ten acres,” Fred Muhumuza, an economist and lecturer at Makerere University said.

“We had asked Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) to do a farmer survey to enable better planning but that survey was never done.”

Muhumuza says it is logistically okay to know who grows coffee and how much he or she grows but that does not require a law.

The government, through the Uganda Coffee Development Authority, has introduced a Bill in parliament, with the intent to regulate the coffee value chain by registering all coffee farmers, coffee nursery operators and coffee value chain actors countrywide.

The farmers’ data will be captured in terms of their land size, number of coffee trees, coffee buyers and sellers, among others.

The proposed law also provides for setting up a National Coffee Institute with the  mandate to carryout coffee research and also engage in other research services in case of any comparative advantage and competence.

It will also give UCDA a mandate to carryout land evaluation to determine whether or not it is suitable for coffee growing as well provide extension services to coffee farmers, a step the critics say is ‘already dead on arrival.’

The Bill proposes a 2-year jail term or Shs960,000 fine for a farmer who fails to take good care of their coffee plantation, poorly stored wet cherries or heaps leading to mold formation, operates an unregistered coffee nursery, or harvests or found in possession of immature cherries.

This development comes as statistics from the UCDA  shows that the country’s coffee export volumes grew 7% to 4.5million 60-kilo bags worth US$492million for the 2017/18 season (Oct-Sep) compared with the previous year as a result of increased yield from the newly planted crops as well as good flowering and beans development.

This was the second consecutive year that Uganda was recording the highest coffee export volumes since 1996 when it recorded 4.15million bags.

Government’s view

Supporters of the proposed law including the State Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Vincent Ssempijja and UCDA Executive Director, Emmanuel Iyamulyemye, told The Independent that the amended law will facilitate growth of the coffee industry.

“The proposed law is good for marketing. Good quality coffee is on high demand,” Ssempijja said.

“We can be able to trace the farmer who grows good coffee and this gives confidence to the buyers.”

Janet Akorimo, the chairperson of the Agriculture Committee in parliament said “registration is also important because the government will know how many coffee growers it has.”

Similarly, Ramathan Ggoobi, a senior economics lecturer at Makerere University Business School says the registration exercise is good but the politics involved is bad.

“We have done registration for livestock and see how the diary sector is doing well”, Ggoobi says. “People just have mistrust but the coffee sector is disorganized. There is no data.”

Critics, however, say the registration of farmers in the dairy was driven by the private sector to enable them easy access to raw materials – milk. In any case, the critics say, there was no law to facilitate livestock farmer registration.

Amos Kasigi, the chairman of Uganda Quality Coffee Traders and Processors Association (UQCTPA) said he welcomes penalising farmers who neglect their gardens as this will subsequently improve quality of coffee.

However, Kasigi noted that the punishments suggested in the Bill are too harsh and need to be revised.

Elsewhere in the world, the neighboring Kenya passed a similar law known as the Crops Act of 2013 but it has largely failed to turn around the country’s coffee industry.

“So far, there are no indications that the new pieces of legislation will eliminate loss of produce and turn around the dipping fortunes in the coffee sector, a fit that can only be achieved by significantly improving production,” said Chris Orwa, a data scientist in an opinion published in one of the dailies recently.

On the other hand, though Brazil and Vietnam – the world’s largest coffee producers – have coffee regulations, they also boost water works and diversify agriculture for their farmers in the event of drought. This is to give farmers broader revenue base.

For instance, Brazil has increased the number of small dams ten-fold to 10,000 in the Espírito Santo State since 2014 in an effort to revive agriculture in the region to address the issue of drought.

Possible solutions

Muhumuza notes that the coffee issue is not about regulating farmers. “The best way they should have done it is to go through cooperatives and let the cooperatives supervise their own farmers,” he says, “Because the failures of the farmers cannot be entirely blamed on the farmers. “

He says coffee farmers need to get support from government institutions, in which, the cooperatives would then give them good planting materials, extension services, storage facilities and  packaging.

“We have already had problems with extension staff. They are not on the ground because they lack facilitation,” he says. “(And) are they going to bring them to do just coffee? This is something that has already failed in the past.”

He added that the government should not think of bringing a new Bill to parliament for only coffee since the whole agriculture sector needs revamping.

Original Post: The Independent

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National Coffee Forum Petitions Parliament Over UCDA Merger



Coffee stakeholders through National Coffee Forum say UCDA merger will disrupt the coffee sub-sector. Coffee is one of the leading sources of foreign exchange for Uganda

Coffee stakeholders through the National Coffee Forum – Uganda (NCF – UG) has petitioned Parliament through the Speaker over the proposed mainstreaming of Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) into Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF)

The government plans to merge a number of Agencies to the line Ministries in a move aimed at saving about Shs1 trillion annually. If the move succeeds, UCDA will be taken to MAAIF.

However, coffee stakeholders through NCF – UG say that they find the proposal to take UCDA to MAAIF untenable and detrimental to the coffee sub-sector.

NCF-UG is a private foundation whose membership includes farmers, processors, exporters, roasters, brewers and researchers, among others.

The Forum Chairperson Francis Wakabi says that mainstreaming the entity will negatively affect the achievements Uganda has attained in coffee production and export.

“This decision will negatively affect our access to the international market and will stunt Uganda’s economic growth opportunities by distorting the functions of UCDA that have stabilized the industry over the years,” said Wakabi in a petition dated February 21, 2024. The petition was copied in to the Chairperson of Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries as well as all MPs.

He adds that Uganda should not risk its achievements by tampering with UDCA that is the main contributor to our coffee success story.

“Mainstreaming it would therefore disrupt the many livelihoods that depend on the industry and adversely affect the badly needed foreign exchange for the country,” the petition reads in part.

As a result of UCDA coffee regulation, Wakabi says that Uganda’s competitiveness was elevated on the global market, ensuring high quality Uganda coffee and enabling Uganda’s coffee to displace that of Brazil and India in Italy and UK coffee markets.

“… World over, coffee is supervised and regulated by a specialized body like UCDA for purposes of institutional memory and specialized focus. Experience from Ethiopia and Kenya who disbanded their specialized coffee authorities and mainstreamed them back into the relevant ministries had to reverse their decisions after registering negative outcomes,” said Wakabi.

The Forum further says that the European Union (EU) buys over 60% of Uganda coffee, making it the biggest market for Uganda.

“The EU has introduced a new regulation called the EU deforestation regulations (EUDR) which bans export of coffee from deforested land, taking effect from 2025. This calls for farmer traceability and the EU commission in Uganda is already working with UCDA to implement the said regulations. They require a country to constantly monitor deforested areas and map all the farmers for purposes of implementation of the farmer traceability program to maintain a high standard of quality. It was reported that Uganda has achieved most of the requirements under the EUDR and required a few steps to be declared compliant. Monitoring and implementing the scheme for the millions of farmers is a tedious activity which requires a specialized unit that can be best implemented using the already established structures of UCDA. Disrupting the current UCDA structure will not only halt the progress made in achieving compliance, but also risk reversing the gains made,” added Wakabi.

He avers that UCDA has been able to greatly contribute to Uganda’s improved Coffee quality through implementation of programs such as certification of Coffee nurseries to ensure quality of planting materials, Provision of Coffee specific extension services and agronomy to improve production and productivity, Provision of technical expertise in Coffee rehabilitation, post-harvest handling practices and pest and disease management and provision of coffee processing equipment like wet mills to farmers and cooperatives to improve quality and promote value addition. The coffee stakeholders are worried that once UCDA is taken to MAAIF which is loaded with many crops and projects, coffee, a key source of foreign exchange for Uganda may not get the necessary priority. Coffee stakeholders argue that if indeed Parliament is a people-centred institution, it should listen to the views of farmers and other stakeholders and retain UCDA as a semi-autonomous agency.

“Given the above position with the attendant reasons, the NCF advises that the proposed mainstreaming of UCDA into MAAIF should not be implemented and that the proposed Bill No. 30 (part VII) be dropped in order not to disrupt the industry and the progress made under the stewardship of UCDA. All coffee stakeholders are unanimously in agreement with this position,” reads the petition in part.


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Govt to import 10 million vaccines to control cattle disease



Entebbe, Uganda.  Government is set to import 10 million doses of vaccines to enable scaling up of ring vaccination as the fight to eradicate Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Ugandan cattle enters a new phase.

Cabinet chaired by President Yoweri Museveni on Monday also proposed that once ring vaccination is complete, farmers start paying for the FMD vaccines in a compulsory vaccination scheme, and thereafter, trade in animal products, will be restricted to those adhering to the plan.

Minister of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fishers Frank Tumwebazwe on Monday shared the resolutions after Cabinet laid out strategies to contain the disease that has hit 36 districts.

Cabinet agreed to create a revolving fund to enable procurement of sufficient FMD vaccines to facilitate compulsory bi-annual vaccination of the susceptible domestic animal population. It also approved a plan for farmers to pay for the vaccines while government covers other costs.

“Vaccination is to be made compulsory. Proof of vaccination will be a precondition for any farmer to sell any animal products,” said Minister Tumwebazwe.

“I appeal to fellow livestock farmers and stakeholders to understand and appreciate these effort as we steadily move to eradicate FMD in Uganda just like other animal diesases like rinderpest wre eradicated.”

Ntoroko veterinary disease surveillance team conducting FMD surveillance and sample collection

The 36 districts currently affected and under quarantine are Budaka, Bukedea, Bukomansimbi, Bunyangabu, Butaleja, Fortportal City, Gomba, Ibanda, Isingiro, Kabarole, Kasanda, Kayunga, Kazo, Kiboga, Kibuku, Kiruhura, Kumi, Kyankwanzi, Kyegegwa, Kyotera, Luuka, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Mbarara, Mbarara City, Mityana, Mpigi, Mubende, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Namisindwa, Ngora, Ntungamo, Rakai, Rwampara and Sembabule.

All districts neighboring the affected districts are at high risk, under strict surveillance, and the authorities have been advised to remain vigilant.

These include Apac, Amolatar, Bugiri, Bushenyi, Butaleja, Hoima, Iganga, Jinja, Kabale, Kaberamaido, Kaliro, Kamuli, Kamwenge, Katakwi, Kasese, Kibaale, Kiboga, Kyenjojo, Mbale, Masindi, Mayuge, Mukono, Namalemba, Nakapiripirit,
Palisa, Rukungiri, Sironko, Wakiso and Soroti.

Tumwebaze assured farmers that in the next one or two months, his Ministry expects to receive and dispatch 2.3 million doses of the FMD vaccine to the affected and susceptible districts for ring vaccination scale-up.

He told parliament earlier that as a way of increasing availability of Foot and Mouth Disease vaccines in the country,
Uganda’s National Agiculture Research Organisation (NARO) has started the process of formulating and developing an FMD vaccine for Uganda.

Source: The independent

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Farmers losing Shs4 trillion due to livestock diseases



ScienceDirect has revealed that farmers in Uganda lose more than $1.1b (Shs4.1 trillion) in aggregated annual direct and indirect loss due to the rising spread of tick-borne animal challenges, with the commonest and economically damaging tick-borne disease being the East Coast Fever.

The livestock industry in Uganda and its productivity continue to be threatened by a number of diseases many of which are tick-borne related.

This, Dr Anna Rose Ademun, the Ministry of Agriculture commissioner animal health, said results from arcaricides that have become resistant, thus the need to ensure collaboration and get solutions to the problem.

“There are ongoing efforts by the Agriculture Ministry, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation to support diagnosis of tick resistance to acaricides at regional laboratory centres but this is not enough,” she said during the livestock industry key stakeholders meeting in Kampala, which had been convened to discuss and prioritise areas for tick control.

The stakeholders included veterinarians, extension staff, farmers, processors and government representatives.

Ministry of Agriculture is already working on the Managing Animal Health and Acaricides for a Better Africa Initiative, which seeks to, among others, provide sustainable solutions to enable small-scale farmers maximise the potential of their cattle by developing and practicing methods that can successfully manage tick infections in cattle.

During the meeting, the TickAcademy App, which will support farmers in managing tick infestations was also pre-launched.

By the end of January, farmers and extension workers will be able to access the app’s educational content, which includes simple-to-watch films, to help them become knowledgeable about tick control.

Mr Enrique Hernández Pando, the GALVmed head of commercial development and impact, said the Managing Animal Health and Acaricides for a Better Africa Initiative will be important in tackling acaricide resistance challenges as well as help farmers and animal health officers to access creative methods of addressing the problem of acaricide resistance.

During the meeting, stakeholders jointly agree to train and sensitise field staff and farmers about tick management strategies that work, as well as strengthen the diagnostic infrastructure and testing capabilities for tick resistance and other animal health-related concerns.

Others will involve making it easier for farmers to obtain credit from savings institutions run by farmer groups at a reasonable cost so they may purchase specialized equipment for applying pesticides.

Mr Nishal Gunpath, the Elanco Animal Health country director south and sub-Saharan Africa, said they will support the Initiative to drive livestock in a better direction, noting that it will also help small-scale livestock farmers to maximise their potential.

Original Source: Daily Monitor

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