Kalungu’s coffee farmer Namata Susan has trashed the controversial coffee agreements stating that Uganda being a free market economy should not have someone, a foreigner have a monopoly over the country’s leading crop export.
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In February 2022 the government signed an Agreement with Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited (UVCC), an agreement that gives the company monopoly powers in trading coffee.
“Just like I, many local farmers don’t feel safe with the fact that local coffee prices are to be determined by Vinci Coffee Company whose track record is highly questionable, and which company is owned by a foreigner,” says Ms Namata.
“Over the years, foreign companies have always made a tremendous amount of profits through the exploitation of local people. We are not even sure she will reinvest her profits in Uganda. We have seen quite a number of companies that make huge sums of profits in Uganda and eventually make with the profits to their home countries without reinvesting them in the country’s economy for example the big telecom companies,” she said.
According to Ms. Namata, although the selling of already made and value-added coffee shall gain much profits, however, local farmers must be empowered to process and be able to value add their coffee on favorable local terms otherwise these profits will not actualize within the pockets of local farmers who are the most likely to re-invest in the country’s economy.
Namata states that; “Coffee production has increased steadfast from 4.6million 60-kg bags in the financial year 2015/16 to 8.1million 60-kg bags in the financial year 2020/21 according to the Final Financial year Budget 2021/2022”.
This proves how the farmers have finally re-organized themselves and decided to do coffee farming.
Many Ugandans have bought the idea of doing coffee farming on a larger scale because they have grown to witness the role it has played in people’s lives and now know its locked potential.
Many will attest to the fact that it was coffee that kept them in school despite the fact that to some, it was on small scale and the prices kept on changing from good to worse to worst but still coffee never let us down.
Coffee remains Uganda’s leading agricultural export earning US dollars 497.4 million as of the Final Financial 2021-2022 Budget.
“If the perennial crop is given much attention, Uganda could as well be termed as ‘The coffee basket of Africa, if not the world’,” Ms. Namata stated.
Ms. Namata’s Way forward
Ms Susan Namata advises that If the people have re-organized themselves and taken on coffee farming on a wider scale, Government should then find better and more favorable ways of making coffee farming even more conducive and attractive to more local farmers.
The government should come down to the ground and consult the local farmers who are the primary stakeholders before entering into certain agreements that are bound to lead to exploitation of our own people placing them at the mercy of foreign investors and their foreign companies.
These local farmers do the most work and need to be engaged in decisions concerning coffee.
People will always trust something that is transparent and open and to which they have contributed.
From one coffee farmer to the rest, she urges fellow coffee farmers not to cut down their coffee trees putting trust in the government to revisit this coffee agreement and sit down at a round table with the local farmers.
Namata is confident that a government that loves its people are going to look into this whole saga and make decisions that are pro to its citizens and is certain that Coffee will remain everyone’s hope.
On 10th February 2022, the government represented by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Matia Kasaijja signed an investment agreement with Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited (UVCC) represented by Ms. Enrica Pinetti, the Board chairperson of the company.