Uganda: Coffee farmers who depart from government guidelines risk arrest (Wall Street Journal)

| July 18, 2016

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The government of Uganda is enforcing strict regulations for its coffee industry, in an effort to export more specialty coffee to high-end markets in the US, Japan, and Europe.

For small-scale coffee farmers like Richard Mutebi, this raises the threat of arrest. Mr. Mutebi spent some time in jail after police caught him drying beans on the bare ground, rather than on a plastic tarpaulin—which he cannot afford to purchase.

Apollo Kamugisha is a technical officer with the Uganda Coffee Development Authority. He says, “Coffee is a sensitive commodity. Farmers must follow guidelines to preserve quality. All police units have orders to arrest non-complying farmers.”

But Mr. Mutebi is unhappy with how the government is treating small-scale farmers. He says, “My arrest was uncalled for. I have been struggling on my own all these years, and this is not the support I expect from government.”

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