Players in the coffee sector pushing for a regulatory body have a reason to smile following the enactment of a bill that seeks to establish a Regulatory Authority for Coffee.
The revelation was made by Joseph Nkandu, the Executive Director of NUCAFE during a press briefing in Kampala to announce the forthcoming coffee fair to be held at UMA show grounds next week.
“It (the bill) is in the formative stages now and it is the one that will among other things establish the industry’s regulatory body aimed at streamlining the industry for fast and smooth development, ” Nkandu said.
Nkandu told The Sunrise that the proposed law is aimed at ending the current statusquo where both the regulatory and development functions are currently being fused into the Coffee Development Authority.
“This is intended to deal with the ongoing conflict of interests by creating two separate bodies pursuing the two dockets of both development and regulation separately, ” Nkandu said.
If assented to, the bill will make illegal, poor post coffee harvest methods including drying coffee beans on bear ground, drying green coffee beans in sunshine, poor storage and transportation methods. The bill also seeks to promote value addition and workers’ conditions in coffee factories, according to Nkandu.
NUCAFE’s Deputy Executive Director David Muwonge argued further that the proposed law would give high hopes for making Uganda’s coffee more competitive on the world market by making government more committed towards extension services and value addition efforts in the entire coffee production chain.
“We are also optimistic that once created, the proposed body will create jobs to be taken up by many of our unemployed youth currently,” Nkandu said.
The proposed law is not likely to be wholly embraced though. Some experts from the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) argue for example, that creating a separate regulatory body for the industry will be out of step with the current trend in public management that emphasizes consolidation rather than separation of roles as exemplified in Kenya following the review of Kenya’s constitution.
They cite the example of the Agriculture Foods and Fisheries Authority (AFFA) a fusion of several developmental regulatory functions under one consolidated body.
They also criticize the argument of conflict of interest in the current set-up as baseless and misinforming.
” A close look at the entire coffee production chain from the garden to the cup will clearly show you that UCDA is concentrating only on the garden side making it impossible for the feared conflict (of interest) to arise,” the source said.