Kampala- Farmers who neglect their coffee will be punished, according to the new Coffee Bill.
The Bill, which is yet to be handled by Parliament, is currently before the House committee on Agriculture, animal industry and fisheries.
According to Emmanuel Iyamulemye, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) executive director: “The Bill was long overdue [and] will give mandate to UCDA to oversee the sector.”
The Bill seeks to give powers to UCDA to regulate all coffee farm and off farm activities, a shift away from the current mandate under the Uganda Coffee Development Authority Act, 1994.
Mr Iyamulemye said last week there was need to not only educate farmers but also regulate the crop, given its importance in Uganda economic ecosystem.
He noted that farmers must take serious responsibility and accountability for seedlings given to them as a way of uplifting their livelihoods.
Coffee productions has since 2014 increased with the number of exported coffee bags rising from 3.2 million to 4.5 million bags in 2018, according to Mr Iyamulemye.
The Bill also seek to punish coffee smugglers, which according to Mr Iyamulemye, will weed out non-licensed coffee traders as well as ensuring quality and tracking of all coffee exports out of the country.
Uganda is a member of the International Coffee Organisation and is seeking, under the Coffee Roadmap, to increase coffee productions to 20 million bags by 2020.
However, some stakeholder have indicated that this is an ambitious target that is unlikely to be achieved in the stated timeframe.
The Bill, if enacted, will also give mandate to UCDA to regulate cafés and coffee shops, which according to Mr Iyamulemye, will help Ugandans to consume quality coffee.
“Coffee is food and if it is not properly brewed, people will be subjected to consuming bad coffee. We are going to train baristas to ensure they check the coffee that is consumed in cafés,” he said.
Ms Janet Moe Okori, the Agriculture Committee chairperson and Abim District Woman MP, said last week they will expedite the Bill in the fourth session of the 10th Parliament, which will be opened in June.
Giving UCDA powers
According to Ms Janet Moe Okori, the Parliament committee is expected to report its progress after 45 days but they are likely not to meet the deadline. The Bill was tabled by government in April but it is currently being scrutinised by Parliament.
The Coffee Bill was introduced by government to repeal the Uganda Coffee Development Authority Act of 1994, which limits the powers of UCDA to only overseeing the coffee sector but with no punitive measures to punish errant farmers.