Buganda Premier Charles Peter Mayiga has said it’s a standard procedure and not illegal to give counter proposals against a bill and that what Mengo has said on the new Coffee Bill 2018 is in good faith. “If the contentious clauses are corrected, everything will be fine since it will enable peasants to continue with coffee farming and fight poverty,” he said. Mr. Mayiga was speaking in Buwekula County in Mubende District Tuesday on his tour of coffee farmers in the Buganda Kingdom.
“If, say, a certain region produced low-quality coffee, it will be easy for the government to follow up on the producers there and the bill will enable the government to properly plan for the coffee sector. However, the same bill has bad clauses, for example, article 26 that requires all coffee farmers to be registered and article 56d where neglectful farmers will be imprisoned or fined,” he said.
He suggested that instead of the government burdening the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) with testing and registering farmers, the task should be put to extension workers.
“It will be hard for UCDA to register and test the soils before farmers plant coffee and that means if you had not registered or your soil was not tested, you will be an illegal coffee farmer. This is unrealistic,” Mayiga said.
Mayiga’s talk seemed a direct response to President Museveni who recently said Mayiga was telling lies to Ugandans about the bill
“I hear this Katikkiro was telling lies about (licensing coffee farmers) but I sent a message to somebody that you should stop that nonsense. There is no licensing. What is happening is registering (and) registering is not licensing,” Museveni said.
The Coffee Bill 2018 has caused a storm since it was tabled in Parliament in April. Critics including the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) and the National Coffee Research Institute are opposed to clauses that require coffee farmers to register.
Clause 26 of the Bill mandates farmers to either be growing coffee at the time of registration or shall have proof of their intention to commence growing coffee within a period of six months and that the land where the coffee is grown or is to be grown shall have been evaluated by the Authority and deemed suitable for growing coffee.
Clause 27 requires the UCDA to establish and maintain a national register of coffee farmers with an electronic database maintained with all needful particulars of the farmer.
Clause 28 talks about deregistration after discovering that a registered coffee farmer has failed to comply with the terms and conditions of registration.
The disputed Bill seeks to repeal the Uganda Coffee Development Authority Act, which on off-farm activities of marketing and processing, leaving out on-farm activities such as planting materials, nursery beds, harvesting, and post-harvest handling.