MAYANJA: M7 MEANS WELL FOR UGANDAN COFFEE FARMERS
By Mulengera Reporters
State Minister for Lands Dr Sam Mayanja has implored Ugandan coffee farmers to appreciate and embrace his boss President YK Museveni’s efforts aimed at intervening in the coffee subsector through value addition initiatives so as to make the subsector more lucrative and gainful for all stakeholders.
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President Museveni has lately been enduring sharp Parliamentary and media scrutiny over his active backing for the Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd which the Finance Ministry had contracted to buy and process a fraction of Ugandan coffee before the same can be exported to markets abroad. The coffee deal, which Parliament has since halted demanding revision of the contract, was criticized and widely rejected for giving away too much (concessions) in favor of the Vinci Coffee Company.
And now contributing to the same debate, Dr. Mayanja (an outspoken supporter of value addition) says that Gen Museveni has always meant well and his proposed interventions ought to be correctly understood and embraced by all citizens of Uganda of good will and intention.
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He says that the interventions Gen Museveni has been popularizing will in effect transform Uganda’s role in the global coffee trade from its current position of “mere price taker to price setter.” Mayanja says that value addition will result into the Ugandan coffee having its own unique and distinguishable brand which can’t be confused with coffee from other exporting countries which is blended to make the Ugandan coffee come off as diluted.
That the value addition the President has been popularizing in relation to Ugandan coffee will improve earnings from coffee exports for both the country and individual coffee farmers. The Minister adds that whereas value addition can get farmers begin to earn between $20 and $28 per kg (up from current $1), the country’s collective foreign exchange earnings from coffee could be grown from current $600m to between $1.2bn and $1.6bn annually.
Mayanja explains that the value addition the President is talking about will diminish the role of distributors and middle men whose exploitative greed explains why farmers still earn as low as $1/kg of coffee even at a time a cup of cappuccino goes for as high as $4 in the developed western economies.
He says currently, only 5-10% of the value derived from the Ugandan coffee returns to benefit the coffee farmer in the country but gratefully Gen Museveni, who he celebrates for being patriotic and visionary as always, is determined to do something to remedy this anomalous situation. Mayanja says there is a track record against which Museveni’s good intentions, regarding the current debate, can be ascertained.
That as of 1986, the coffee farmers were in extreme poverty because the Coffee Marketing Board (CMB) monopoly had condemned them to extreme deprivation. That those days, farmers gave away their coffee at exploitatively very low prices which would never be paid promptly. He commends President Museveni for ending this when he became President and liberalized the coffee trade bringing in more buyers who would pay farmers a better price and more promptly than had been the case.
Mayanja also says that President Museveni was deliberate when he invested in regulation of the coffee sub sector through enacting Uganda Coffee Development Authority into existence to streamline the coffee farming and trade. That building on the resultant momentum, the Museveni government proceeded to set the target of Uganda beginning to annually export over 20m bags of coffee as of 2022. Mayanja also makes reference to history by reflecting on the colonial days when free seedlings were distributed to farmers (8 seedlings per house hold) to popularize coffee farming as an economic activity in the 1920s.
The Minister salutes the colonial government for the 1927 land reforms which resulted into the enactment of the Busuulu & Envujo law which protected Bibanja holders and gave them security of tenure on the land which they tilled and cultivated to facilitate food and cash crop production. That as of Independence in 1962, 42% of the households in Uganda were actively involved in coffee farming whose resultant exports, during the same period, accounted for 30% of the country’s foreign exchange receipts. (For comments on this story, get back to us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734 & 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).