A Ugandan farmers group urged the government to create legislation to protect the quality of the nation’s coffee, its biggest export earner, and boost growers’ incomes.
Such a law should stipulate crop management methods and punishment for those who mismanage their output and contribute to an overall decline in quality, said Gerald Ssendaula, chairman of the National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises, at a Nov. 4 conference in the capital. Also known as Nucafe, the union represents at least 1 million coffee farmers.
Uganda, which is Africa’s biggest exporter of coffee, can see its output damaged by the picking of immature beans and improper drying methods, according to Ssendaula, a former finance minister. “There is no law to protect the crop,” he said.
Christopher Kibazanga, minister of state for agriculture, said at the same event that a draft law Nucafe presented to government is being considered. The demand comes after Ugandan coffee-export earnings in the 12 months that ended September slumped to $327 million from $411 million a year earlier amid low export volumes and weak global prices, according to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority.
Uganda coffee shipments in 2015-16 fell to 3.32 million bags, from 3.46 million, extending declines for a third year, it said. The country plans to plant 900 million coffee seedlings through June 2019 to boost output to 20 million bags in four years, according to the authority.
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