Changes in the National Coffee Bill 2018
"Coffee Bill "
The Uganda Coffee Development
Authority Act Cap 325 (Act) was enacted in 1991 to govern the coffee sector in
Uganda. The Act is still in effect and mainly provides for the regulation of
off-farm coffee activities including marketing and processing of coffee.
The National Coffee Bill 2018 (Bill)
seeks to expand the regulatory scope to cover the entire coffee value chain
including on-farm activities with an aim of improving the quality of coffee that
is consumed by both local and international markets.
Coffee Value Chain Regulation
expanding the regulatory framework the Bill introduces and widely defines the phrase
“coffee value chain” to include all “on”
and “off” farm activities. This is an attempt to bridge the gap in the Act that
does not define and specify what activities are subject to the coffee sector regulatory
Bill is more detailed and specific as to what activities in the coffee sector
will be regulated; a look at the definitions of the terms “off-farm” and
“on-farm” activities may easily lead one to conclude that all activities in the
entire coffee value chain from planting to consumption of coffee will be regulated
by the Bill once enacted into law.
The Bill also defines a “coffee farmer”
as a person who grows coffee for commercial purposes. With the introduction of
this definition, even the small scale farmers with countable coffee trees may
be captured by the new regulatory framework.
and Licensing of coffee farmers and value chain actors
The Bill proposes registration
of all coffee farmers in the coffee subsector. In order to be registered, a
farmer, at the time of registration, should either be growing coffee or prove that
she/he intends to commence growing coffee within 6 months from the date of
registration. Secondly, there will be confirmation that the UCDA Authority has
evaluated the land where the coffee is to be grown or is grown and that such
land has been deemed suitable for growing coffee.
Under the Bill, the UCDA Authority
will be empowered to deregister a coffee farmer for non-compliance with the
registration terms and conditions. An appeal from such a decision would be to
the Minister responsible for the coffee subsector.
from coffee farmers, the Bill proposes to extend the UCDA Authority’s
supervisory and regulatory regime to all other actors in the coffee value chain
by registering and issuing licenses to them. Such other actors include operators
of coffee nurseries, processing factories, pulpers, coffee buyers, packers,
roasters, graders, exporters among others.
Bill’s objective, among others, is stated to be improvement of the overall
quality of coffee produced in Uganda for both the local and international
markets. It is proposed that the UCDA Authority should grade, regulate and
sensitize farmers on the types and varieties of coffee to be grown in the
different parts of Uganda. Coffee Farmers may no longer be at liberty to grow
all sorts of varieties of coffee more so where such varieties have not been
cleared to be grown in a particular area. The UCDA Authority will also be
empowered to prescribe quality control standards for the sale and marketing of
Unlike the Act which had no sanctions, the Bill
criminalizes certain activities that compromise the quality of coffee including
neglecting a coffee farm, packaging non-coffee materials, poor harvest &
post-harvest practices (like harvesting immature cherries, poor storage of
coffee, drying coffee on bare ground etc.), tampering with the seal of the
authority among others. Directors and employees of companies will be taken to
have committed prescribed offences in the UCDA Act unless they prove that the
company committed the offence without their knowledge or that they exercised
due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.
The Coffee Bill proposes a
shift in the duty of the UCDA Authority from fixing a minimum price to only issuing
indicative prices at which coffee may be traded. The UCDA Authority will also
be mandated to establish a coffee auctions system which is to be used as an
alternative to the day to day method of selling coffee.
In order to ensure advancement
in the sector, the Coffee Bill establishes and mandates the National Coffee
Research Institute to undertake research in the coffee subsector.
In conclusion therefore, the
Bill has introduced changes extending the coverage of the regulatory framework
and is more particular as to what activities it will regulate once enacted into
law. The UCDA Authority will be at the forefront of the sector growth and
ensuring that quality of the coffee produced, processed, consumed or exported
from Uganda is of an acceptable international standard.