President Museveni has said the Buganda Premier, Charles Peter Mayiga should stop telling lies about the Coffee Bill 2018 which Mengo says has sections that makes it mandatory to license coffee farmers, a move that will push away small players.
In a televised press address on Thursday at State House Nakasero, Museveni said: “I hear this Katikkiro was telling lies about (licensing coffee farmers) but I sent a message to somebody that he should stop that nonsense,” Museveni said.
“There is no licensing. What is happening is registering; registering is not licensing,” Museveni said and stressed that the reason for registering is because of exporting.
The Coffee Bill 2018 has caused a storm since it was first raised in Parliament in April, with not only Mengo but some sections of farmers and agricultural researchers including from the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) and the National Coffee Research Institute rejecting clauses relating to coffee farmer registration.
The protests are directed towards Clauses 26, 27 and 28 that explain coffee farmer registration, the registrar and deregistration.
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.
They left the meeting having agreed that Mengo would send its proposals to the minister proposing the best way to handle the Bill.
Clause 26 of the Bill mandates farmers to either grow coffee at the time of
registration or to have proof of his or her intention to commence growing coffee within a period of six months and to have the land where the coffee is grown or is to be grown evaluated by the Authority and deemed suitable for growing coffee.
Clause 27 will require the UCDA to establish and maintain a national register of coffee farmers with an electronic database maintained with all needful particulars of the farmer.
Clause 28 talks about deregistration and mandates UCDA, after being satisfied that a registered coffee farmer has failed to comply with the terms and conditions of registration to strike off them off the database, but that such a farmer will have an opportunity to appeal to the minister.
The disputed Bill seeks to repeal the Uganda Coffee Development Authority Act, which mainly emphasises off-farm activities of marketing and processing but leaves out on-farm activities such as planting materials, nursery beds, harvesting and post-harvest handling.
Re-emphasising Mengo’s position on Monday in Lukiiko, Mr Mayiga said that the move would lead to a call by Ugandans to have cattle keepers registered. He said that Mengo deems it fit to work in agreement with the government in matters concerning coffee production. He had earlier at the consecration of the new Masaka Bishop Serverus Jjumba directed his displeasure at Gen. Salim Saleh.
Masaka municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga questioned how the law would operate.
“Can you de-register someone you have not given permission to operate? Its implication is that whoever was licensed can be de-licensed,” Mpuuga told Daily Monitor.
Coffee is the predominant crop for Buganda and was once mainly produced in Masaka region.