Agriculture minister Mr Vincent Ssempijja and officials from Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) on Wednesday met with Buganda Prime Minister Charles Peter Mayiga to contain the rising tensions over the proposed Coffee Bill 2018.
The two sides held a closed-door meeting that lasted for about three hours before addressing the media, saying they wanted to have a law that will be acceptable by all Ugandans.
Mengo thinks that if the Bill is enacted into law with clauses that compel farmers to register, many small scale coffee producers will be forced out of the industry yet government intends to sell at least 20 million bags of coffee annually.
After the meeting Mr Mayiga flanked by Mengo State minister for Agriculture, Mr Amis Kakomo and the Buganda Cultural Development Fund (BUCADEF) CEO Mr Badru Sserwadda said the discussion was a worthwhile.
“He (Ssempijja) came so that we exchange ideas on the Coffee Bill which has been tabled before Parliament. As you heard in the last few days we got concerned over some the sections of the Bill which could hamper the growing of coffee by scaring away potential farmers,” Mr Mayiga said.
He added that during their interaction with the minister, they were able to table their fears and he as well presented government views on the coffee industry.
“We have agreed to work with them. I am going to write to the minister raising the concerns we noted in the Bill and he will inform his colleagues about them and I am hopeful he will introduce them in Parliament,” Mayiga said.
Speaking in the Kingdom Parliament (Lukiiko) on Monday, Mr Mayiga said that the move would lead to a call by Ugandans that also cattle keepers be registered. He said that Mengo deems it fit to work in agreement with government in matters concerning coffee production.
Mr Mayiga described Ssempijja as a passionate coffee farmer who by coming to Mengo when there was displeasure, exhibits good leadership.
“You may be aware that we have a memorandum of Understanding-working with UCDA and our Emwanyi Terimba campaign is largely premised on that Memoranda. We want to continue working with them for our farmers to earn a decent living,” Mr Mayiga said.
Mr Mayiga said that a good partnership with the government would help farmers earn more from coffee.
Mr Ssempijja said that Mengo has remained an active participant in the development sector including coffee production.
“When they have concerns, we need to listen to them. We have had very important discussions (today) especially for the lower people. Our discussions were also extended to others issues where we want to do more,” Mr Ssempijja said.
He said that he also explained government’s intention and that he asked Mr Mayiga to write down the Kingdom’s concerns and how best they can present the bill.
“We are all Ugandans and despite all this, we are competing with other people elsewhere. We need to forge a team that will be able to compete with others,” Mr Ssempijja said.
The disputed Bill seeks to repeal the Uganda Coffee Development Authority Act, which mainly emphasises off-farm activities of marketing and processing but leaving out on-farm activities such as planting materials, nursery beds, harvesting and post-harvest handling.