Coffee farmers are set to reap big after Parliament passed the National Coffee Bill 2018 on Wednesday.
The Bill, which covers the entire coffee value chain from farm to cup, has to be assented to by H. E. the President before it comes in to force.
The new law is meant to repeal and replace the current law to provide for Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) to regulate, promote and oversee the coffee sub-sector and to regulate all on-farm and off-farm activities in the coffee value chain.
The Uganda Coffee Development Authority Act, Cap. 325, enacted 29 years ago, does not meet the current needs and long-term goals of farmers or Government.
The new legislation
The Bill addresses the developments, advances and challenges that have emerged in coffee research, extension services, farmer organisations and climate change.
It defines the roles of different stakeholders in the coffee value chain including regulating on-farm activities such as generation of planting materials, soil management, irrigation, pest and disease management and harvesting as well as off-farm activities such as drying, sorting, primary processing and tertiary processing.
One of the key positives is the provision for the registration of all coffee farmers in the country through UCDA.
Registration will be free and each registered farmer will be given an identification number. The Authority will use the information compiled to facilitate the provision of extension services to coffee farmers individually or through farmergroups.
These services include seed and seed garden management, good agricultural practices, disease and pest management control, and harvest and post-harvest handling among others.
The Bill also seeks to budget and plan for services that are critical for coffee production and productivity. It will empower UCDA to provide coffee extension services beyond agronomic practices.
In addition, the Bill provides for coffee research and development, which is vital to improvement in production and productivity, quality and value addition, market development and intelligence and institutional development and accountability.
All registered coffee farmers will benefit from this and are set to become empowered farmers with improved yields and good quality coffee.
The Bill protects smallholder farmers from exploitation by unscrupulous sector players and recommends that farmers be mobilised into farmer groups, cooperatives and/or associations.
The new legislation will help in comprehensive planning for coffee farmers when it comes to linking buyers and farmers, setting up irrigation systems, provision of planting materials and extension services.
This will help in realizing and maximising capacity since it encompasses the entire coffee value chain.
It also introduces a voluntary coffee auction system to offer an alternative method of selling coffee. This is aimed at bringing efficiency in the sub-sector resulting from increased competition.
Furthermore, the legal framework will enhance UCDA’s capacity to broaden its decentralised network in all coffee growing districts.
It will also help in expanded research services at all value chain levels including better collaboration with the newly set up Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services in the Ministry of Agriculture.
All this is advantageous to the coffee farmers and is set to bring positive change to them and the sub-sector.