Ankole coffee producers support mandatory registration of farmers
“Registration of all farmers will help the Authority establish a database of farmers and use the information to design p ...
AGRICULTURE NATIONAL COFFEE BILL
Representatives of Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union Limited have supported the clause in the National Coffee Bill which provides for mandatory registration of all coffee farmers.
"Registration of all farmers will help the Authority establish a database of farmers and use the information to design programs that will help the coffee sector to implement the coffee roadmap objective 20million bags by 2025," the leaders of the Ankole Coffee Producers said.
In their proposals which were presented by the Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union Limited's general manager John Nuwagaba to the parliament agriculture committee yesterday, they argued that registration of farmers will be useful in various ways including facilitation of extension service delivery, collective marketing, access to credit, enhance distribution of free farm inputs, irrigation, and enhancing traceability of exported coffee from producers to consumers.
Other advantages of registering farmers which they pointed out include management of coffee pests and diseases, addressing critical gaps in production, post-harvest handling, and processing and marketing of coffee so as to maximize benefits for farmers.
"All these interventions connected to registration of farmers will lead to increased production. Traceability is the key to buyer confidence and transparent relationships with smallholders which will facilitate marketing of the coffee and fetch premium prices. Publicized information from the Authority will attract partners, investors as well as researchers who are pertinent to the development of the industry," Nuwagaba stated.
The Ankole Coffee Cooperative raised concern that the Bill lacks clauses for guiding and regulating the use of coffee chemicals which endanger Uganda's coffee market internationally.
"The New Vision of 19th April informed us that cancer-causing herbicides are on sale in Uganda. We recommend that a clause restricting the sale and use of herbicides in Uganda be added in this Bill to save the lives of farmers and create assurance to the coffee markets about the safety of our coffee," Nuwagaba stated.
The Ankole Coffee Cooperative recommended that more emphasis should be put on certification and if possible be given an independent section in the Bill.
On the bill's requirement for the annual registration of coffee farmers, they called for the exercise to be done at least after every two years.
The Ankole coffee farmers opposed the proposal in clause 52 which provides for the creation of an auctioning system as an alternative way of selling coffee, arguing the system mostly benefits coffee traders and that farmers lose out.
"The current marketing system in Uganda helps farmers to get better coffee prices and payments to the farmers. We recommend that the existing marketing system be strengthened by empowering the Authority to build direct links to the international exchanges and to make these trading platforms available to stakeholders and value chain participants to mitigate price risk," the Ankole coffee farmers stated.
Meanwhile, the general manager of Bukomansimbi based Kibinge Coffee Limited, David Lukwata, echoed concerns of coffee farmers in his area saying they are opposed to the penalties in the Bill.
"The proposed penalties have scared coffee producers. Those penalties are not necessary. Government should just strengthen regulation and sensitization of farmers and other coffee dealers on the best practices," Lukwata stated.
Clause 54 (1) states that it will be an offense for any person who operates an unregistered coffee nursery, sells or distributes substandard seedlings or seeds, harvests or is found in possession of immature cherries, neglects a coffee farm, poorly stores wet cherries or heaps coffee leading to mold formation, sets up a store/warehouse that doesn't meet the requirements for storing coffee, being a processor without a husk chamber or store, operates a huller without a license or without an approved structure, deals in coffee for internal marketing without a licence or in contravention of any of the provisions of this Act.
A person who commits any of the above offenses will be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 48 currency points (sh960, 000) or a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.