The Ministry of Agriculture(MoA) is collecting comments on a draft regulation to re-establish an authority for coffee and tea development years after a similar body was discarded as irrelevant.
The new body, to be called Coffee & Tea Development & Trade Authority, will not be any different from the now defunct Coffee & Tea Authority, which was abandoned by the government seven years ago, said Fikru Amene, coffee development director at MoA.
The Authority was abandoned with the introduction of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange. The re-establishment of the Authority came at the request of the Prime Minister at the end of April, 2015. Subsequent to the request, the Ministry finalised the draft regulation based on an assessment of the sector, which was carried out with the collaboration of the Ministry of Trade (MoT) and the Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture Research (EIAR) in 2013.
Currently, MoA is responsible for the development of coffee and tea, while MoT controls and regulates the trade facet.
Government’s assumption and ambition to promote the products through these separate entities has not been satisfactory, admitted Fikru. Though the country’s coffee product is said to have the highest quality, the benefits from it have not been equivalent, he added.
Three weeks ago, MoA shared the draft regulation with sectoral associations, including Coffee Exporters & Ethiopian Coffee Roasters Association. Among the suggestions it received included that of forming a separate ministry for coffee and tea, instead of just an entity under the MoA.
The major reason for the establishment of the separate entity was to give due focus to the sector and to create a harmonised policy execution, and service provision starting from the production of the goods to the transactions within a single body, reveals Fikru.
In relation to production development, the draft states that the Authority will have the responsibility to provide an extension support programme at the regional level and also to promote coffee and tea within the country and in the international market. It will also have a mandate to control and regulate the market ranging from issuing and revoking trading licences of coffee suppliers as well as tea distributors. to carrying out quality inspection, all in accordance with the Coffee Market Control & Regulation Proclamation No. 602/2008.
The Authority is supposed to have a director that will be appointed by the government and an advisory board. It will be responsible to MoA, which will also shoulder the work of drafting policies, rules and regulations and enforcing them as well, according to the draft.
Its base will be in Addis Abeba with additional branch offices in regional states, having a budget allocated by the federal government.
An expert at MoT complained that the Bill missed including research in the area.