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Kampala’s Decision Brews Contention

Uganda’s coffee producers are upset about the country’s decision to withdraw from the International Coffee Organization, or ICO. Uganda says tariffs and other barriers restricting its coffee exports triggered the decision to withdraw from a two-year extension of ICO’s 2007 international coffee agreement. The National Union of Coffee Agribusiness (NUCAFE), which includes some 1,500 coffee farmers, supports the government’s decision to withdraw. Executive director Joseph Nkandu says farmers now have the opportunity to take ownership of their product and to invest and upgrade their coffee. Uganda’s withdrawal does not mean an end to exporting coffee, according to the managing director of Uganda’s Coffee Development Authority. Emmanuel Iyamulemye says Uganda small and medium-sized enterprises can now focus on promoting their coffee in other markets. ICO officials say the organization has tried to resolve Uganda’s complaints but has not received a response, adding that the reasons for the withdrawal were not strong or related to the agreement. Uganda is currently Africa’s leading exporter of Robusta coffee, exporting 6.1 million bags annually.