By Uganda Online Media
Katikiro Charles Peter Mayiga of Buganda has blasted the government’s decision to sign a coffee agreement with Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited- UVVCCL, a privately owned company to process and export Uganda’s coffee without consulting the key stakeholders.
While attending the Easter Sunday service at Lubaga Cathedral, Mayiga noted that while signing the deal, the necessary stakeholders were not consulted.
“Then came Vinci Coffee Company to buy and sell Ugandan coffee almost as a monopoly. Those who signed the agreement never consulted anyone but claim it is good. We all understand English and know how to interpret agreements, be it laws. Farmers were never consulted; neither dealers nor exporters were consulted. Buganda has a big stake in the coffee industry but why were we not consulted? How can the Ministry of Finance officials claim to know more about coffee than those of us who are on the ground,” Mayiga asked?.
In February this year, Finance minister Matia Kasaijja signed the deal on behalf of the government while Enrica Pinetti signed on behalf of UVCCL, a deal that would see the European company preferential treatment in the coffee sector.
The incentives include “taking all reasonable measures to give priority of supply of coffee to the company” before allowing any export of coffee beans.
Also, the company undertakes that it will pay for the priority “quality coffee beans at a premium price to be determined by the company,” but in any case the price determined will not be lower than the price determined by a relevant authority, whichever is lower.
The agreement generated controversy as Uganda National Farmers Federation UNFF said this is creating a monopoly and will make it hard for local companies to develop unless they are given similar or better offers. The line cabinet minister of Agriculture and Key UNFF personality, Frank Tumwebaze, distanced himself and the ministry from the deal, saying he knew nothing about it.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Ramathan Ggoobi has defended the deal saying that the company will buy the coffee at a premium price, the first pricing system in Uganda. But Mayiga said the government move must include the stakeholders.
Mayiga also said that the government must also recognize the role of the Buganda Kingdom in coffee development and as a key stakeholder in the development of Coffee and the government should seek to advise from them before signing any agreement.
Mayiga however encouraged people not to lose hope because of the new deal and encouraged them to continue growing coffee. He also asked Archbishop Paul Ssemwogerere to encourage priests to embrace coffee growing.
“The controversy in the coffee business challenges us. When we challenged the coffee bill, we were ridiculed. Then all of a sudden, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority without consulting anyone pulled out of the International Coffee Organization (ICO). When we questioned the move, we were again ridiculed. It appears some people want to frustrate Ugandans out coffee business and selling it abroad. Why don’t they first consult us,” Mayiga said.
He also encouraged people to start consuming coffee to increase the local demand which will balance the interest of foreign companies.
“Those with land should grow more coffee. Let the Catholic Church also grow coffee. However, Ugandans should also learn how to consume coffee locally. By consuming it locally, we will have done away with the saboteurs. Let us emulate Ethiopia where 65% of the coffee grown is consumed locally,” he added.
In 2016 Mayiga under the Kingdom of Buganda inaugurated a campaign dubbed “Emwanyi Terimba”. Mayiga engaged the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) and formed a partnership in an attempt to boost coffee growth in Buganda Region.