By Our Reporter
KAMPALA, Uganda-SHIFT MEDIA- Uganda’s target of exporting 20 million 60kg bags of coffee by 2025 seems doomed following the withdrawal from the International Coffee Organization (ICO)
Uganda is currently the second largest exporter of coffee in Africa next to Ethiopia.
In 2020 Uganda exported 6.08 million 60kg bags of coffee accounting for 15% of the country’s total export earnings. This makes coffee Uganda’s second export earner.
Though the assenting into the Coffee Act by president Museveni on August 13, 2021 was seen as a good gesture towards promoting and boosting the coffee industry, the scandalous move to have Uganda off ICO is disastrous.
We can exclusively reveal that on 10th September, 2021, the Managing Director Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye Niyibigira wrote to Mr Jose Sette the Executive Director International Coffee Organisation notifying him that Uganda would not join the extension of the ICA 2007 beyond 1 February 2022.
Similarly, on 15th September 2021, ICO vide Depository Notification (DN 142/21/ICA2007) informed members of Uganda’s withdrawal.
After the commencement of the new law that repealed the 1991 Act, UCDA now has the power to oversee or regulate all on- farm and off farm activities and make Uganda coffee more competitive on the global market.
This came in as good news since the Act provides for registration of all coffee farmers in Uganda.
After the Bill was gazzeted, Iyamulemye welcomed the law saying: “it marks a new chapter for the coffee sector in Uganda.” But why did he write to have Uganda withdrawn from ICO?
Our frantic efforts to get a comment from Iyamulemye whose term of office has expired were futile. Similarly, the efforts to get comments from the UCDA Board, whose term expired two months ago, hit a dead end.
The Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Hon. Frank Tumwebaze whose docket UCDA falls was reportedly in Kyankwanzi for a meeting.
What Uganda will lose by quitting ICO
According to the National Coffee Act Section 40(3), UCDA is required to profile, grade and certify coffee in line with the international standards issued by ICO and other international standard bodies. Therefore for UCDA to pull out of ICO which is a legal requirement is not only scandalous but also means that the Uganda Coffee will lose market!
Coffee is exported using ICO certificates that are issued by member countries.
The ICA is the only international policy mechanism under which countries that produce and export coffee, and countries that import coffee, work together towards the common goals of prosperity for all those engaged in the coffee value chain, with a special focus on the livelihood of farmers.
It therefore means that our coffee export will be affected and we won’t be issuing ICO certificates since we are no longer members. Apparently what is strange is that neither the Board nor the minister (Frank Tumwebaze) was consulted.
The International Coffee Organization (ICO) is an intergovernmental body, set up in 1963
under the auspices of the United Nations, responsible for implementing the International Coffee Agreement (2007) to strengthen the global coffee sector and promote its sustainable development.
The ICO provides a unique forum for the global coffee community, working actively with its
Member governments, international organizations, and the private sector.
The ICO Five-Year Action Plan 2017-2021 identified as among its strategic goals delivering world-class data, analysis and information to the industry and policy-makers.
ICO members currently account for 97% of world coffee production and exports and over two-thirds of coffee imports.
Membership in the ICO has a positive impact on the policy and performance of the coffee sectors of the Organization’s Members.
Now that Uganda is out, we are not entitled to appoint representatives to the International Coffee Council, the governing body of the ICO, which meets twice a year to review the coffee market situation, develop coffee policies and establish priorities for the work of the Organization.
Uganda will also miss out on the planned new Africa Coffee Facility supported in partnership with the InterAfrican Coffee Organization (IACO), CABI and Afreximbank.