Coffee farmers have asked the government to carry out extensive consultation and educate them about the National Coffee Bill that is currently before parliament.
Speaking at the celebration to mark the international coffee day held at Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union grounds in Kabwohe on Friday, the coffee farmers said they are confused by the content of the Bill and do not understand its intentions.
In April this year, the government tabled before parliament the National Coffee Bill 2018, for first reading, before it was referred to the House’s committee on agriculture for scrutiny.
In the Bill, the government through Uganda Coffee Development Authority intends to regulate the coffee industry by registering all coffee farmers in the country, license coffee farmers and also undertake research activities.
The Bill also seeks to repeal and replace the Uganda Coffee Development Authority Act, Cap.325 that was passed in 1994, provide for the registration of nursery operators, coffee farmer organisations, cooperatives, and coffee value chain actors and the issuance of licenses.
Julius Kamusiime, a coffee farmer from Ntungamo district asked the government to educate farmers about proposals contained in the Bill and explain the intention of the Bill to farmers before parliament considers it.
Hassan Baguma, another coffee farmer, said most farmers are illiterate and cannot interpret the Bill on their own. According to Baguma, there is a need for wide consultations by Parliament on the Bill before passing it to law.
Meanwhile, a section of farmer cooperatives has welcomed the proposal in the Bill to register coffee farmers saying it would go a long way in streamlining activities of the sector.
“The registration of farmers is a good development and should be embraced by the locals,” said John Nuwagaba, the general manager of Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union.
He called on farmer’s association to educate their members “on the importance of organised and planned farming.”
The Union’s chairman Jonath Tweyambe, said the union has been carrying out registration of their members and this has helped them plan for inputs and effectively carry out technical services such as field visits.
Speaking at the function on Friday, Agriculture Minister Vincent Bamulangaki Sempijja announced that the government will soon embark on educating farmers about the National Coffee Bill, 2018 “so that they are not discouraged from coffee farming.”
He dispelled the rumour that the Bill aims at introducing new taxes in the sector.