Uganda Pulls Out from Membership of International Coffee Organisation

Uganda has announced a two-year suspension of its membership from the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) in attempt to pressurise the organisation to address its concerns as a coffee producing country.

Uganda has been trading its coffee under the 2007 ICO agreement, which stakeholders say does not favour farmers and other players.

Some coffee producing countries have questioned the agreement, arguing that it only favours consuming countries with the interest of farmers not catered for.

Uganda Coffee Development Authority’s managing director, Mr Emmanuel Iyamulemye said Uganda does not support the two years’ extension of the International Coffee Agreement 2007, because Uganda’s concerns and interests have not been addressed in the new Agreement.

He said that suspending membership for two years will give Uganda a chance to use the resources to further enhance our coffee sector and focus on the aspirations of Coffee Roadmap to increase production to 20 million bags by 2025/30.

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Uganda has been engaging with other African countries to develop strategies to enhance production and also start a campaign to boost domestic coffee consumption in Africa.

UCDA says the country’s position will be instrumental to incorporate key performance indicators to all the objectives mentioned in the Agreement.

The Agreement is written in a very generic manner so the Organisation is not bound by any result based goals. This is the shortfall in the way it is worded and therefore has led to the Member’s frustration that countries are not getting any benefits out of the membership.

Some of the expectations from Uganda in this negotiation is for ICO to look at taking into the value added coffee and not only the green beans.

The other concern Uganda has is the classification of coffees at the ICO does not favour the country’s uniqueness as the birth place of Robusta coffee or Ethiopia being the origin of Arabica.

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According to UCDA, Uganda not joining the two-year extension of ICA 2007 will not affect coffee exports or trade in any way. This is because ICO does not regulate coffee trade. Non-ICO members including Guatemala, Paraguay, and China, export coffee in the same way while United States and Turkey are still importing coffee after leaving ICO.

“During the two years, Uganda will still issue the ICO Certificate of origin on coffee exports. All exports of coffee from member and non-members of ICO have country codes on their certificates of origin,” Iyamulemye noted.

Uganda’s monthly coffee exports earnings in December hit the highest mark of $75.2 million (Ush267 billion), a latest report has shown.

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The December earnings were slightly higher than what the country earned in the month of August and November which recorded $75.02 million and $71million respectively.

This performance was a record earnings and the highest so far which marked a return to the higher levels since 2011.

Country remains the leading coffee exporter and second leading producer in Africa and ranked among the top 10-producers.

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