Coffee dealers, farmers petition govt on merging UCDA

Workers walk through a coffee nursery bed at Gulama Village in Masaka District on June 20, 2020. PHOTO | WILSON KUTAMBA

What you need to know:

  • They argue that the Cabinet's decision to merge various agencies with line ministries was abrupt and never considered stakeholders to make an informed decision

Coffee farmers and dealers in Masaka Sub Region have asked the government to reconsider its plan to merge the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) with the Ministry of Agriculture.

They argue that the Cabinet's decision to merge various agencies with line ministries was abrupt and never considered stakeholders to make an informed decision.

According to Mr Fred Busulwa, the chairperson of Masaka City Coffee Nursery Operators Association (Maccona), UCDA  has for a long time been behind coffee quality control, which is essential in not only pricing considerations but also better quality.

“UCDA has ensured compliance with food safety legislation in major import local and international markets.  UCDA could be having some weaknesses and challenges like any other entity of government, but its success has always superseded challenges,” he said during an interview with Monitor on Wednesday.

This comes a day after Parliament forced the government to withdraw multiple Bills meant to effect the rationalization and merger of agencies following strong opposition from a section of legislators who cited the absence of proper certificates of financial implication.

Last week, the government introduced nine Bills before Parliament, aimed at legalising provisions to rationalise agencies in different sectors of the economy. The Bills will amend existing laws that establish agencies in the sectors of trade, education, finance, internal affairs, water and environment, agriculture, works and transport, social development and tourism.

Mr Sowed Sserwadda, the chairperson Kibinge Farmers’ Cooperative Society, said as the government moves to implement rationalization, some special considerations should be taken especially on entities which are very crucial and relevant both in supporting the economy and livelihood of Ugandans.

“Since childhood, we have been told that agriculture is the backbone of Uganda and coffee in particular being a leading export. Therefore, the government should do whatever possible to sustain the backbone rather than breaking it by merging the only vehicle of the coffee industry to the line ministry,” he said.

Mr Samuel Nfuga, the Secretary of Masaka Cooperative Union, one of the traditional coffee cooperatives, said putting UCDA in the Ministry of Agriculture would take the coffee industry back by two years.

“Comparing coffee and other sectors that are entirely regulated by MAAIF, one will realize that UCDA is of relevancy and has improved the sector that is contributing to the country’s economy and livelihood of farmers,” he said.

UCDA is a government agency that was established by an Act of Parliament –UCDA Act, 1991, which was amended in 1994, Cap. 325, and repealed and replaced by the National Coffee Act No.17 of 2021.