Proposed coffee law includes penalties for quality failures
May 23, 2018—Uganda will soon have new law to regulate the coffee sector after the cabinet approved a new Coffee Bill to be debated in parliament in the near future. In spite efforts to diversify the economy with cut-flowers and fresh fish, coffee remains the leading agricultural export and top foreign exchange earner.
Hopes are the proposed law will help evolve a more competitive and sustainable coffee industry with current total annual exports standing at about $350 million mostly of the Robusta variety. Arabica brought in another $130 million and total coffee exports were up 30% in 2017 compared to 2016.
If passed, the National Coffee Bill (2018) will automatically repeal and replace the Uganda Coffee Development Authority Statute (1994) which has been termed by coffee farmers as too limited in scope to address the current challenges in the coffee sector.
Uganda is still Africa’s top producer of Robusta, but its international competitiveness took a hit when Vietnam overtook it in production rankings eight years ago.
Farmers were widely consulted in the proposed law and in future UCDA will among other new responsibilities, impose penalties including jail terms for those found guilty of compromising coffee quality.
According to information and ICT minister, Frank Tumwebaze, the new law will also promote further research, good coffee farming practices, encourage more domestic consumption of the beverage and look for ways to add value to the crop.
It is also intended to provide the UCDA with the clout to regulate all on-farm and off-farm activities in the coffee value chain; streamline and harmonize the roles of the institutions involved in the development of the coffee sub-sector.