By David Ssempijja and Billy Rwothungeyo
The coming into force of the National Coffee Policy launched last week was considered a great milestone in the country’s agricultural sector, but farmers have asked the Government to maximse its benefits by availing resources to enable its consistent implementation.
Farmers say much as the policy is in place, there are still challenges associated with creating public awareness about it, which will require a consistent flow of information in languages understood by coffee farming communities across the country.
Speaking to the media after the launch at the Coffee Research Institute at Kituza in Mukono district, Cyprian Bangirana, the vice-chairman of the National Union of Coffee Agri-businesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE), noted that the policy will be more relevant only if the Government deals with numerous challenges facing the coffee industry.
“NUCAFE members have been at the centre of the policy right from demanding for it, its formulation process to the launch. Our advocacy continues into lobbying government to emphasise funding coffee research initiatives, avail disease resistant seedling and create an enabling environment for long term financing,” he said.
Prof. Zerubabel Mujumbi, the agriculture state minister, said the Government is getting more focused on boosting the coffee industry having recognised its role in supporting socio-economic progress.
“The Government will work together with other stakeholders in the coffee industry to ensure the policy is significantly operationalised. We consider coffee as a key driver for this economy, especially in terms of dealing with household poverty,” he said.
Coffee has been contributing an annual average of 20% of Uganda’s total export revenue over the last 10 years. The Uganda Coffee Development Authority managing director, Henry Ngabirano, noted that the policy comes at a time when northern Uganda is adopting coffee growing, creating optimism that the policy will serve an increased number of players.
The policy implementation and dissemination will also be supported by Feed the Future: Enabling Environment for Agriculture Activity, a project spearheaded by USAID to tackle global hunger, food security, poverty reduction and streamlining development policies within the domain of agriculture.
Objectives of the National Coffee Policy The policy aims at supporting and strengthening coffee farmer organisations to participate effectively in all the stages of the coffee value chain, streamline and strengthen existing coffee laws and regulations at all stages of the value chain and to ensure adherence to the recommended quality standards.
The policy also aims to promote domestic consumption of coffee to enhance coffee industry competitiveness and develop the local market.