By Agnes Nantambi
Agriculture minister Tress Bucyanayandi has directed the new board of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) to work on reviewing the coffee regulation.
He also told them to support coffee research the Kituza at the Kituza Research station.
The minister believes these two issues have not been addressed well and have a bearing on the coffee sector.
According to Bucyanayandi, a number of local and international challenges need to be addressed or mitigated.
He cited problems like the coffee wilt disease and other pests and diseases, few clean planting materials, increased demand for better quality coffee in international specialty market, high percentage of old coffee trees, soil fertility, value addition to finished products and said they are affecting the coffee sector.
“These challenges need to be addressed to improve farmer incomes and the country’s competitiveness in the global coffee market, you need to attract youth and women into coffee production, marketing and value addition,” he emphasized.
The minister was inaugurating the new UCDA board in Kampala recently. He noted that the old board had developed policies and programmes towards addressing the coffee wilt disease, coffee replanting, quality improvement, value addition and promotion of domestic coffee consumption among others.
Uganda’s coffee earnings have been fluctuating over the years. The country, Africa’s second biggest coffee grower after Ethiopia, exports unprocessed coffee and its biggest buyers are; the European Union, followed by Sudan and Lebanon.
Records show that in the year ending July 2006, the earnings were US$13.7m which double to US$28.3 in the year ending July 2007.
Records further showed that the earnings dropped in 2009 to US$23.9 by March 2009 and reduced further in 2010 before picking up again in the 2012/13 year.
“It is your duty to build on these efforts in line with government’s policy to boost the coffee sector,” Bucyanayandi told the Board. “It is my sincere hope and desire that the coffee sub sector shall greatly benefit from the synergies of your individual expertise,” he said
He also asked the new board to develop specific programmes to support prosperity for all, the entire value chain and good governance of UCDA.
“Your mandate starts from coffee research to value addition and international liaison, you therefore have to develop these programmes,” he said.
Edmound Kananura Kyerere, UCDA quality and regulatory manager, said the current regulation has got loopholes which are not favoring the sector to grow.
He explained that the regulation in its current form is not specific on the tertiary and the farm level management of coffee leading to poor management.
“We want the regulation to make the farmers responsible for any damage done during coffee handling. For instance, poor methods of harvesting and post-harvest handling, among others,” Kyerere said.
According to him, if reviewed, middle men who link farmers to processors will be registered and held accountable in some cases because they also benefit from some of the bad practices.
He also said UCDA wants to enhance local consumption which would boost value addition in Uganda instead of having to take coffee outside the country. He said, the limited local consumption is discouraging value addition.
“We want the review to focus on the management of diseases and pests, guarantee clear access of the Authority to the farm level for monitoring, prohibit the sale of coffee from the garden, inspect the coffee taken to the market, registration of players among others,” he explained.
The 11-member new board whose term runs until 2017 is led by Perez Bukumnhe who took over from Eng. Fabian Tibeita.
Other members are, Henry Ngabirano, UCDA Managing Director, Valentine Okot Otamu and Gerald Sendaula as farmers’ representatives, Rose Kato and Ayub Kalule representing processors as well as Hannington Karuhanga, and Robert Nsibirwa representing exporters.
The others are Beatrice Byarugaba from the Agriculture Ministry, Dr. Albert Musisi from the Finance Ministry and Silver Ojakol from that of Trade.
Bukumunhe said change of attitude and promotion of fertiliser use will be prioritised.
“We want coffee farmers to adopt the culture of thinning, and addition of fertilizers. This is the only way we shall benefit from coffee,” he said.
He also promised to involve students in higher institutions of learning and equip them with coffee farming skills to increase the number of youths in the coffee sector.
Felix Kalanzi a farmer in Kalungu district that the New Vision talked to lamented that his earning from coffee have declined greatly.
Coffee regulations for review