Uganda Coffee Producers Split Over Withdrawal From International Coffee Organization

Robert Kabushenga, a coffee farmer in Uganda’s Wakiso district, is among the coffee producers outraged by the country’s withdrawal from the International Coffee Organization, or ICO, last month.

Uganda claims that the decision to withdraw from a two-year extension of the International Coffee Organization’s 2007 international coffee agreement was prompted by tariffs and other trade barriers.

Kabushenga, on the other hand, calls the decision reckless and illegal, telling VOA that it will harm Uganda’s coffee farmers.

“What effect does this have on the farmer?” This means that the coffee buyer who has been purchasing can only purchase coffee that he is certain he can sell because he is certain he has a contract “According to Kabushenga. “He is unsure whether he can transport it to the International Commodities Exchange’s warehouses. And as a result, we could very easily end up with a surplus crop here due to a lack of buyers.”

However, the National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses (NUCAFE), which represents approximately 1,500 coffee farmers, supports the government’s withdrawal decision.

Farmers now have the opportunity to take ownership of their product, invest in and upgrade their coffee, according to executive director Joseph Nkandu.

“The farmer has historically received far less than 5% of the retail value “As Nkandu stated. “Where does the remaining 95% go? And the farmer’s only way to increase the value he receives from this coffee value chain is to upgrade.”

According to the managing director of Uganda’s Coffee Development Authority, the country’s withdrawal does not mean the end of coffee exports. According to Emmanuel Iyamulemye, Uganda’s small and medium-sized enterprises can now concentrate on expanding their coffee markets.

“We are investigating niche markets,” “As Iyamulmye put it. “We have our young entrepreneurs, SME’s, who are interested in expanding into large markets such as the United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and, of course, Scandinavia and Europe.”

Officials with the ICO say they have attempted to resolve Uganda’s complaints but have received no response, adding that the reasons for the withdrawal were not compelling or directly related to the agreement.

Gerardo Patacconi, ICO operations head, told VOA via Zoom that the organisation is considering integrating the private sector and establishing a public-private task force in a new draught coffee agreement with Uganda.

“This is an entirely new opportunity.” “According to Patacconi. “And this opportunity is unique in my opinion, which is why it is supported by donors and the industry. As a result, Uganda is a major producer of coffee. It’s truly tragic that it fails to see that as an opportunity. And any issues that arise should be discussed within. This is coffee diplomacy at its finest.”

Uganda is Africa’s largest exporter of Robusta coffee, with 6.1 million bags exported annually.

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