KENYA- In 10 years, Kenya, which was producing 130, 000 metric tons of coffee per annum, has decreased its production rate by 69.23% to 40, 000 metric tons of coffee per year, according to Business Focus.

The media house thinks the decision by the Kenyan Government to merge the country’s coffee body with Agriculture Food Authority n 2013  with an aim of optimizing the sector has backfired if recent statistics are anything to go by.

The same situation, according to Business Focus, is to be replicated by the Uganda Government by merging the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).

“We are now back to where it all started,” Prof. Joseph Kieyah, the Chairman of Coffee Sector Reforms in Kenya, said when sharing his knowledge on the Coffee Auction System and Coffee Regulatory Reforms – Experiences and Lessons from Kenya.

He was a speaker at a two-day coffee dialogue on developing Uganda’s coffee value chain at Lake Victoria Serena Hotel, Kigo.

He appealed to the Ugandan government to maintain UCDA’s autonomy to build on the successes already registered on the supply side and start focusing on demand side response.

For the record, the Kenyan government is also drafting the Coffee Bill to give back the Coffee Board autonomy and establish an autonomous coffee research institute among other considerations.

According to the Coffee roadmap, Uganda expects to be producing 20 million bags of coffee per annum by 2030.

“Coffee is a strategic commodity. It’s the second most traded commodity in the world (after oil) and the most popular beverage after water. So, UCDA has to remain autonomous,” Prof. Kieyah noted.

Echoing the words of Prof. Kieyah, Ambassador Solomon Rutega revealed that most African countries give coffee authorities other priority crops to take care of.

 He underscored that coffee bodies in the region are, in most cases, assigned either cocoa or tea or both for regulation. Amb. Rutega averred that Uganda is seeking to have cocoa given to UCDA for proper regulation.

However, the Secretary in the Office of the President supported the move to have the UCDA retained as autonomous.

Kakende said the government has a lot of bureaucracy, yet coffee is the number one commodity for Uganda in foreign exchange earnings, which needs a quick decision.

He also urged the people to be very strong in maintaining UCDA’s autonomy so that this organization can stand alone.

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