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UPC tells govt to withdraw Coffee Bill

By Francis Emorut

Added 17th July 2019 04:12 PM

UPC joins other stakeholders that have opposed some sections of the Bill among them NUCAFE and the Katikkiro of Buganda

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UPC national chairman Lawrence Okae. Photo by Francis Emorut

UPC joins other stakeholders that have opposed some sections of the Bill among them NUCAFE and the Katikkiro of Buganda

The Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) has asked the government to withdraw the Coffee Bill and start afresh so as to accommodate the views of all stakeholders in the country.

“As UPC our take is that there should be a fresh exercise altogether and come up with a new bill that is accommodative, progressive and one that farmers have confidence in,” the UPC national chairman Lawrence Okae told journalists.

This was during the Party’s weekly press conference at their headquarters in Kampala on Wednesday.

Okae argued that if reputable organisations such as the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) and National Coffee Research Institute have pointed out shortfalls in the Coffee Bill 2018 then the government should heed to the advice.

The director of National Coffee Research Institute, Dr Geoffrey Arinatwe, recently said if the Bill in its current form is passed then it will make it hard for the country to attain the 20 million coffee bags target by 2025.

The party that led the country to independence joins other stakeholders that have opposed some sections of the Bill among them the National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE) and the Katikkiro of Buganda Charles Peter Mayiga.

Mayiga recently criticised a proposal for the registration and licensing of coffee farmers as embedded in the Bill while NUCAFE has opposed the section that proposes to establish the coffee auction system, saying it could lead to buyers forming cartels which will disadvantage farmers as has happened in Kenya and Tanzania.

The Bill proposes the registration of farmers, capturing details of the size of land, the number of coffee trees, and particulars of the farmers, coffee buyers and sellers.

It also proposes that land, where coffee is grown, shall be evaluated the Uganda Development Authority (UCDA), to determine its suitability for coffee growing and others.

Okae said that coffee since the time of independence has been a major cash crop alongside other crops and therefore, the government should tread carefully when coming up with a piece of legislation that affects coffee farmers.

“The essence and purpose of any government in place is to protect and lift up the ordinary citizen from the abyss of poverty, disease and ignorance. It is, therefore, our contention as UPC that this Coffee Bill should be midwifed afresh,” Okae said.

He pointed out that the fact reputable agencies and others have opposed some sections of the Bill indicates that it did not take an informed process, meaning that there are many stakeholders whose views were not captured. 

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