PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has blasted Buganda Katikkiro (prime minister) Charles Peter Mayiga for telling lies about the National Coffee Bill, which is before Parliament for scrutiny.
“There is no licensing of coffee (farmers). I heard Katikkiro (Mayiga) was telling lies about that, but I sent a message to somebody that he should stop that nonsense,” Museveni said.
Museveni said this on Thursday evening at State House Nakasero while addressing journalists after speaking about his countrywide tour to meet and sensitize Ugandans on job and wealth creation.
He noted that the Bill, which seeks to repeal the Uganda Coffee Development Authority Act, intends to provide for the mandatory registration of coffee farmers in the country.
“What is happening is registering; registering is not licensing and the reason for registering is because of exports. The buyers want to trace where this coffee has come from. It is not us who want to trace this coffee, but it is the buyers,” he stressed.
Museveni, who had outlined commercial agriculture, industries, services and information, and communications technology as key sectors in which wealth can be created, added: “So it is not licensing, which means I can be denied the license.
No! It is that I am recorded as one of the coffee growers.” The President said one of the reasons for the registration of coffee farmers is to improve the quality of the coffee they produce.
“So anybody who was attacking (the Bill) was definitely wrong. I am registered as a cattle farmer in Ankole Cattle Breeders’ Association and even the fishing community has its association,” he said.
While addressing the Lukiiko (Buganda parliament) at Bulange, Mengo on Monday, Mayiga asked MPs from Buganda to fight government proposals to register and license coffee farmers as entailed in the Bill.
“Threatening to penalise rural farmers because they do not have a licence will create a situation where people will ask that cattle keepers should also be registered,” the Katikkiro was quoted as saying.
He said they welcome and support quality assurance in the Bill, but the clause that provides for registration of farmers is dangerous.
“Go tell your MPs from Buganda to fight the Bill because it will affect coffee farming,” he said.
The Bill, which was recently tabled in Parliament by agriculture minister Vincent Ssempijja, also seeks to regulate all on-farm and offfarm activities in the coffee value chain. It proposes penalties for any person found running an unregistered coffee nursery, sells or distributes substandard seedlings or seeds, harvests or is found in possession of immature cherries