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Coffee research institute opposes proposed registration of farmers

FILE PHOTO: Coffee

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The National Coffee Research Institute-NaCORI has rejected the proposed registration and licensing of coffee farmers, saying it will disadvantage farmers and cripple the industry. The proposals are contained in the National Coffee bill 2018, which is before parliament.

The bill proposes the registration of farmers capturing details of the size of land, number of coffee trees and particulars of the farmers, coffee buyers and sellers among others. The bill also proposes that land, where the coffee is to be grown shall be evaluated by Uganda Coffee Development Authority to determine whether or not it is suitable for coffee growing.

The bill proposes a 2-year jail term if a farmer fails to take good care of their coffee plantation. According to the UCDA board the proposed registration of the farmers is meant to eliminate middlemen and ensure development of the coffee sector in the country.

Appearing before the Agriculture Committee chaired by Janet Okori-moe Akech this morning, the Director of Research in the National Coffee Research Institute, Dr. Geoffrey Arinaitwe, said registering farmers is complicated. He explained that registration of farmers can’t work especially for small holder ones.

He says the bill shouldn’t be seen to discourage farmers as they will end up opting for other crops such as sugar cane and potatoes and abandon coffee. Arinaitwe rather supported the idea of supporting cooperative societies that can work with farmers.

NaCORI however proposes the zoning of the coffee industry so that the uniqueness of the coffee from different areas is preserved.

According to Arinaitwe, the coffee grown in North West Uganda, Western Uganda, Central and Eastern is so different because of the weather, arguing that supporting coffee producers at that level will grow the industry.

Arinaitwe said this is better compared to the proposal to evaluate the soil before one is allowed to plant coffee.

Arinaitwe says registering farmers will affect the country’s target of exporting 20 million bags of coffee by 2022.  The Kabweri County MP, Barnabas Gonahasa, says the new proposal to register people farming will kill the industry.

According to UCDA, Uganda’s Coffee exports in March 2018 amounted to 333,346 60-kilo bags worth US$ 35.74 million. This comprised 224,036 bags worth US$ 21 million of Robusta and 109,310 bags worth US$ 13.88 million of Arabica coffee.

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