Uganda Quality Coffee Traders and Processors Association (UQCTPA) members on Tuesday discussed the National Coffee Bill 2019 expressing mixed reactions.
Some traders expressed fear that the Coffee Bill, now pending in parliament could turn out to be a trap to levy more taxes on coffee farmers and traders.
While meeting with officials from Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), at Delta Hotel, in Bweyogerere, the traders said the bill was hurriedly formulated and did not bring on board stakeholders in the coffee value chain.
“It takes us a lot of effort to convince coffee farmers at grass root level, the relevance of any law emanating from government without prior sensitisation on the importance of the Coffee Bill. Farmers always want to know how they would benefit from such a law”, said UQCTPA vice chairman, Patrick Nabongo.
He said since the Bill emphasises registration of all coffee farmers, there is need for government to educate farmers on why they are being registered.
Richard Lubwama, a prominent coffee trader said much as the bill is intended to classify coffee growing regions according to the type of soils that favour a particular variety of coffee, the bill does not specify the source of funding to carry out this expensive soil research exercise.
“Soil testing to ascertain the type of coffee to be grown should have been done before the coming of the Bill. Farmers want to know how UCDA and Ministry of Agriculture came up with this Bill”, he said.
He said previous research shows that Teso and Karamoja sub regions are not coffee growing area and wondered why Government intends to carry out fresh soil testing, yet it was done in the 1960s and 70s.
Edmund Kananura, UCDA Director Quality and Regulatory Services, laboured to explain to the coffee traders on the importance of registering coffee farmers. He said the bill does not have any hidden agenda at all.
“The issue of Registration of Coffee farmers has been politicised which is not the case. Research agenda establishment is what the Bill is up to”, he said.
Amos Kasigi, UQCTPA Chairman called for ample time for members to study the bill and make recommendations, accordingly.
“We cannot contribute our input in this bill in one day”, he said..