President Yoweri Museveni has given coffee dealers two weeks to develop ideas on how to add value to Ugandan coffee.
The President, who has on several occasions spoken against export of raw materials, reportedly told coffee dealers in a meeting at State House Entebbe that Ugandans should not export its products in raw form.
Sources that attended the meeting told Harvest Money that the President cited the dairy and textile industries which have recorded success in value addition. Officials from ministries of finance, led by minister Matia Kasaija, agriculture led by state minister for agriculture Fred Bwino, Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka and coffee dealers who included farmers, processors and exporters attended the meeting.
“The President’s idea is that we must find ways of adding value to our products, especially coffee. During the meeting, we discussed the principles of value addition and we all agreed that there should be value addition. It does not matter who does it, whether the Uganda Vinci Coffee Limited or the coffee dealers,” Kiwanuka said.
He said the meeting agreed that the stakeholders meet and come up with proposals to the Government on how this can be achieved.
“He advised us to get together with the coffee dealers, agree on the principles and how value addition can be made. How we can achieve the strategy of value addition. We are going to meet and generate ideas and then take them to him and, together, see how we can form a policy,” he said.
Whereas the director Uganda Vinci Coffee Company, Ahmed Sultan attended the meeting, the Attorney General said the issue of the controversial Vinci Coffee agreement was not raised “The issue did not come up.
Parliament in July recommended to government to review the agreement that was signed between the finance ministry and Vinci Coffee Company.
The MPs complained that the company had been given many exemptions. The agreement exempted the company from paying taxes for years and also gave it free land, something the coffee dealers said was unfair.
While delivering the State-of-the-Nation Address less than a month after Parliament recommended the cancellation of the coffee deal, President Museveni opened up about his engagements with Italian Investor Enrica Pinetti, the director of the company.
The President who said that his government is ready to support whoever ventures in coffee value addition, said he is the one who contacted Pinetti to invest into coffee roasting, a deal that has been received with contempt by farmers, coffee processing companies and exporters.
During the Wednesday meeting at State House, the coffee dealers reportedly asked the government to support them in building a factory that will add value to coffee.
“We are here to get advice from you and share ideas. Our aim is to ask government to support our local indigenous companies to add value on our coffee,” the dealers’ representative, Robert Kabushenga, is quoted to have said.