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Govt To Keep Track Of Coffee Farmers

by Wangah Wanyama
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By Apollo Mubiru

Government is set to introduce a National Coffee Registry to trace farmers on coffee quality.

“Once we roll out the traceability system, how we trade coffee will change significantly. A trader will be required to trace coffee back to the plot where it was grown. Each farmer will be registered in the National Coffee Registry, as per the Coffee Act,” Robert Nangatsa, Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) manager coffee extension service, said.

He was on Tuesday addressing participants at a coffee stakeholder meeting organised by UCDA in partnership with International Trade Center and Uganda Coffee Federation in Kampala on Tuesday March 12, 2024.

The meeting was aimed at validating the National Action Plan for compliance with the Corporate Sustainability due Diligence Directive and European Union (EU) regulations on deforestation-free products in the coffee value chain.

UCDA and other exporters will be required to present a due diligence statement for each batch of coffee placed on the EU market.

UCDA managing director, Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye, Sustainability Director at JDE Peet’s, Nadia Hoarau-Mwaura, and Chief Executive Officer of Enveritas, David Browning recently entered an agreement that will ensure that coffee industry in Uganda does not export coffee grown on land deforested after 2020, as required by the new European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR).

The regulation, which impacts this year’s coffee harvests, is designed to ensure that European citizens are not contributing to deforestation and biodiversity loss through the products that they buy and consume.

The parties will take joint action to remediate coffee which infringes the regulation, allowing Uganda to have its entire coffee production area, grown by close to two million producers, assessed as being deforestation-free using Enveritas’ territorial approach.

The landmark agreement, JDE Peet’s will support the rehabilitation of land deforested and converted to coffee after 2020.

“Uganda is a key coffee origin for JDE Peet’s and we are proud to partner with UCDA and Enveritas to preserve access to this coffee for our consumers. While EU consumers are rightly concerned that their consumption habits may contribute to climate change and environmental degradation, it is vital that action to mitigate this risk takes into account the social implications of hurting coffee farmer livelihoods. This agreement addresses both environmental and social concerns,” Hoarau-Mwaura said.

Enveritas’ territorial approach involves a technologically sophisticated process to monitor all of Uganda’s coffee growing region through a combination of high-resolution satellite imagery, machine learning, and teams on the ground. A protocol developed by UCDA will ensure that any coffee which is found to be in contravention of the new regulation is removed from the supply chain.

Once removed, JDE Peet’s will work with the farmers to reforest the land. This innovative and inclusive JDE Peet’s Enveritas countrywide solution, supported by the EU’s concept of declaration in excess, allows coffee producing land, at a vast scale, to be assessed as deforestation free, delivering on the climate journey while protecting smallholder farmers.

Iyamulemye said, “We have been monitoring closely the requirements of the EU and realized that Uganda would need to develop an innovative approach. Uganda is home to nearly two million coffee producers, the second largest population of coffee producers in the world. Traditional approaches to farm traceability might work for some of our producers, but we needed a solution at a national level or the bulk of Ugandan coffee producers might be denied access to the EU market during the 2024 harvest. This partnership allows us to take concrete action to address EU concerns regarding the deforestation caused by coffee, while also ensuring that smallholder farmers do not have their livelihoods put at risk.”

Browning said, “We are excited to partner with UCDA and JDE Peet’s on this landmark agreement. A typical Ugandan coffee farmer has less than half a hectare of coffee, and might earn only a few hundred dollars a year in coffee income. Very few Ugandan coffee farmers deforest their land to plant coffee, but how could this be validated? This partnership is a great example of how technology can be used for good. Rather than attempting to individually knock on the door of millions of farmers at enormous expense, machine learning can pinpoint exactly where the issues exist to allow the Ugandan government to address EU concerns.”

Enveritas is a non-profit organization that works worldwide to support the livelihoods of smallholder coffee farmers through encouraging the responsible sourcing of coffee.

JDE Peet’s is the largest roaster of coffee in the European Union, serving millions of consumers annually.

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