UGANDA – The government of Uganda through the Uganda Coffee Development Authority plans to introduce a new law to regulate coffee farming in a drive to boost quality and output.

The new National Coffee Bill, that is currently under consideration by law makers, will widen governance to issues related to planting materials, harvest and post-harvest handling, research and climate change.

It seeks to streamline the coffee industry by replacing a 1994 law that only covers post-farm activities such as marketing and processing.

The Ministry of Agriculture highlights that “Issues relating to the generation of planting materials, harvesting and drying of coffee are not covered under the current law.

“It is therefore imperative to reform the law as it does not meet the current needs and long-term goals of the government.”

According to an Update by the New Vision, The National Coffee Bill 2018 was first tabled before the parliament in April 2019 and is currently before the committee of agriculture.

It seeks to reform the law to provide for Uganda Coffee Development Authority to regulate, promote and oversee the coffee sub-sector and to regulate all on the farm and off-farm activities along the coffee value chain.

Notably, clause 51 cap 3 & 4 of the bill provides for setting up a national coffee institute which will have the mandate to do research on coffee and also engage other research services in case of any comparative advantage and competence.

The Authorit also intend to register all coffee farmers for monitoring, according to the bill.

However, the new regulations has ignited an uproar from farmers and other key stakeholders in the sector saying they are unfriendly to small scale farmers and only benefit large scale coffee farmers.

Scientists and researchers from the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) and the National Coffee Research Institute have hence sought for more clarification on the bill before being implemented.

The Agriculture Minister, Vincent Ssempijja, has defended the Bill saying registration and licensing of coffee farmers is aimed at linking Ugandan coffee producers to the international market, to boost the market for the Ugandan coffee.

Uganda is Africa’s second-biggest coffee grower after Ethiopia and the continents leading coffee exporter.

The East African country forecasts production at 5.6-million 60kg bags in the 12 months to end-September, and projects output climbing to 20-million bags in 2025.

The country largely produces the Robusta variety and the bulk of the beans are exported.