As Uganda continues its quest to be more competitive in the global market featuring its leading cash crop in the country, the coffee regulator has put its foot on the pedal on the commodity’s producers, processors as well as distributors who will water down the integrity of the cash crop, as they will be held liable by the law.
The current law, Uganda Coffee Development Authority Act 1991, according to Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), is not broad enough to deal with the current sector challenges. That is why they want the current law replaced with the Coffee Act.
Should the UCDA proposal get cabinet’s endorsement and Parliament’s approval, those found guilty of compromising coffee quality could go to jail, face hefty fines, or have their licences withdrawn and factories shut down.
UCDA was established by law as a public authority to promote and oversee the coffee industry, support research and promote production.
It is also mandated to control the quality, improve coffee marketing to maximise foreign exchange earnings for Uganda and payments to the farmers.
Speaking during the announcement of the 16th African Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition to held in Kampala-Uganda in February next year, Dr Emmanuel Iyamulemye, the UCDA managing director, said the Authority has finished drafting the proposals which will be presented to cabinet soon for endorsement.
“We have just finished our input on the law on coffee. We believe it will help in the fight to restore and protect quality. Once the cabinet approves it, it should become a law by next year,” Dr Iyamulemye said earlier in the week.
He continued: “We have a responsibility to insist on quality because if we don’t do that, our product will be ruined. We shall not stand by and watch. We shall continue closing down factories that do not perform according to the required standard.”
While speaking to farmers last week during a coffee training workshop in Jinja, UCDA coffee sustainability manager, Mr Samson Akankiza, said the current coffee law was enacted 26 years ago and revised three years later to factor in regulations of exports.
He said: “The current coffee law is missing aspects that can safeguard quality. The framers of the law at that time were concerned with regulations to do with export and didn’t think of laws to compel farmers to ensure quality of the cash crop.”
The proposed law stipulates proper crop management methods in addition to punishing those who harvest immature coffee beans and use improper drying methods, which contribute to poor quality of the cash crop.