President Museveni has assented to the National Coffee Act, a move officials say marks a new chapter for the development of Uganda’s coffee sector.
The President signed the Bill into law on August 13, 2021 and on September 13, 2021, the Act was gazetted under supplement Act No. 17.
Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) said it now has power to oversee or regulate all on-farm and off-farm activities and make Uganda coffee more competitive on the global market.
“The old law enacted in 1991 only covered off-farm activities of marketing and processing, leaving on-farm activities like planting materials, nurseries, harvesting and post-harvest handling outside the scope of the law and UCDA’s mandate,” said UCDA in a statement seen by ChimpReports this Wednesday morning.
The Act provides for registration of all coffee farmers in Uganda by UCDA.
The registration will entail capturing details of the size of land, number of coffee trees, particulars of a farmer, coffee buyers, sellers and nursery bed operators.
The Bill repeals and replaces the Uganda Coffee Development Authority Act, Cap. 325, which was enacted in 1991.
Coffee accounts for about 13-15% of total export earnings and is the second highest foreign exchange earner for the country.
In addition, Uganda is the second largest coffee producer in Africa after Ethiopia and the largest exporter on the continent.
Current coffee production stands at 8 million 60kg bags while exports stand at 6.08 million 60kg bags for the year ended 2020.
UCDA Executive Director Dr Emmanuel Iyamulemye recently revealed that they plan to increase annual production of coffee to 20 million 60kg bags by 2025.
Registration of farmers
According to the new law, registration of farmers will be free and each registered farmer will be given an identification number.
For a person to be registered, “he or she shall either be growing coffee at the time of registration or shall have proof of his or her intention to commence growing coffee within a period of six months, from the date of registration.”
In 2018, Parliament rejected a clause to de-register coffee farmers who fail to meet standards set by the Government.
In addition, a two year jail term for a farmer who fails to take good care of their coffee plantation was also rejected by members.
MPs also opposed the proposal to have UCDA evaluate land where coffee is to be grown to determine whether or not it is suitable for coffee growing.
But UCDA now says the new legislation is a shot in the arm to transform the country’s coffee sector.
“With the coming of the new law into force, it opens up numerous opportunities to improve quality and productivity within the sector. It’s time to do it right,” said UCDA.
The law is expected to help in comprehensive planning for coffee farmers when it comes to linking buyers and farmers, setting up irrigation systems, provision of planting materials and extension services.