Kampala, Uganda – The executive director of the Uganda Coffee Federation (UCF) George Byamukama has said whipping Ugandans who are growing coffee is tantamount to imperialism.
Byamukama was making reference to the ongoing discussion on the National Coffee bill 2018 which is currently being scrutinized by Parliament’s Agriculture committee. The bill proposes the registration of farmers, capturing details of the size of land, the 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 the Uganda Coffee Development Authority- UCDA to determine whether or not it is suitable for coffee growing. The bill proposes a 2-year jail term for a farmer who fails to take good care of their coffee plantation.
Now UCF, a non-profit company with membership among coffee exporters, coffee processors, farmers, companies that supply equipment and supplies to coffee dealers argues that putting harsh penalties in the law could kill the industry, instead of encouraging coffee production.
Byamukama told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that the proposed jail term and sentence for Ugandans who fail to take good care of their coffee trees will create resistance, and trigger memories of forceful labour and periods in the colonial times when Africans were beaten, exploited and forced to work on farmlands by whites.
He says that instead, the government should put its effort into sensitizing coffee farmers and helping them to get better.
Byamukama says that the government can consider other interventions like destroying coffee plantations that have been abandoned only to become havens to pests and diseases.
Bukwo Woman MP Evelyn Chemutai is also doubtful on the effectiveness of the approach saying that the proposals are harsh and suspicious.