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Coffee seedlings: Speaker Says Demonstrations Will Not Yield Anything

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The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, has encouraged coffee farmers to use other means to voice their concerns rather than demonstration.

Among in her communication to Parliament said demonstrating will not yield anything.

“You don’t need to come and demonstrate at Parliament. Your demonstration will not yield anything. We will allow you to demonstrate and we move on, but use your representatives in this house to voice out your concerns,” Among said.

He assured the farmers and the nursery coffee operators to be patient, saying Parliament has been discussing the matter and will soon come up with a solution.

“Please be patient. The issue is going to be handled. I don’t think that it’s right for you to start demonstrating when we are already handling the matter. Use your representatives to speak for you,” she said.

Last week, Coffee Nursery Operators under their umbrella organization Devoted Coffee Farmers Initiative Uganda petitioned Parliament seeking guidance on the government’s commitment to supply farmers with coffee seedlings on credit.

Represented by MP Rose Nyakikongoro, the operators said the seedlings were verified by Coffee Development Authority in 2022 and are due for planting.

However, due to the failure of the Ministry of Finance’s commitment on payment, the seedlings have not yet been supplied out and are overgrowing in the nursery beds.

“The Ministry of Finance should allow coffee nursery farmers to supply seedlings this season to the ready farmers and payments be made later when funds become available so that the seedlings do not go to waste in the nursery beds,” they said.

They further argued that Coffee Nursery Operators under Coffee Development Authority had not been warned to scale down production of seedlings yet the coffee roadmap of 20 million bags targets by 2025 had led to increased demand and production of coffee seedlings for farmers to plant.

They also argued that the coffee seedlings estimated to cost sh71b have overgrown and are going to go to waste if no intervention is made by government.

“Farmers who were prepared to plant coffee in March/April 2022 were frustrated but have continued to demand the seedlings,” they said.

Parliament last month put state minister for finance Amos Lugolobi to task with explaining the matter.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa expressed concern over the delay by government to provide coffee seedlings to farmers.

“This is a planting season and the rains are not going to wait for you. God is not going to change the seasons because the Ministry of Finance is still verifying the PDM SACCOs. Whatever Hon. Minister you are telling us right now, is not helping us at all,” Tayebwa told Lugoolobi.

This was after several MPs complained about the slow pace at which the Ministry of Finance is resolving the problem of supply of coffee seedlings.

Lugoolobi explaining the delay informed the House that the money for seedlings was repurposed and sent through PDM. However, he said some of the SACCOs through which the money is going to be channelled are ready and only await verification.

“We are going to send the money through the SACCOs. Some of the SACCOs have already been registered and only waiting for verification to ensure that the members are the ones supposed to benefit,” he said.

This however angered Tayebwa who insisted that the minister provides a better explanation because the planting season has already started and the nursery operators want a commitment from Government to supply the seedlings on credit.

Kabula MP, Enos Asiimwe asked the minister to make a commitment to pay the nursery operators to allow them to supply the seedlings on credit.

Government through Uganda Coffee Development Authority has been buying and supplying farmers with coffee seedlings.

The operators signed an agreement with UCDA to supply the seedlings for three years. The certificates are renewable.

However, government this time round, cut off the funds and channelled it through the Parish Development Model.

“That Parish Development Model programme has not yet even started. So, what happens to the seedlings that are growing day and night?” Tayebwa asked.

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