Friday June 6 2014

MPs push govt to raise coffee funding



In a drive to increase output volumes and earnings from coffee, legislators are planning to move a motion in parliament that will compel the government to increase annual funding.

The motion is meant to reinforce the National Coffee policy that was approved by Cabinet and launched last year. It was triggered by the realisation that despite government not allocating sufficient funds to the sector, Uganda is now Africa’s biggest coffee exporter.

Funding to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) — the agency that promotes the production and marketing of the crop — has stagnated at Sh1 billion ($400,034) for almost a decade, a weakness that has hampered the country’s efforts to hit the export target of 4.5 million bags by 2015.

The sector’s annual production volumes hover at just above three million bags.
Once Uganda’s leading sources of foreign exchange, coffee has since been relegated to third place after tourism and diaspora remittances.

But it remains the leading commercial agricultural commodity, accounting for nearly 20 per cent of all exports by value over the past few years, and a source of livelihood for nearly 1.5 million households — or nine million people.

“We have held discussions with the ministries of Finance and Agriculture; there is an improvement in funding this year, but it’s not enough. Extension services are the missing link,” said Mathias Kasamba, chairman of Parliamentary Agriculture Committee.

sector allocation
Provisional sector allocations for the coming financial year, according to the National Budget Framework Paper, show that agriculture will get Shs440.7 billion ($174 million) — representing 3.10 per cent of the total budget — a slight improvement on the past financial year’s Shs394.4 billion ($157 million) — or 2.9 per cent of the total budget.