Uganda has withdrawn from the International Coffee Organization. This follows a decision by Uganda Coffee Development Authority not to renew their two-year extension of their membership through the International Coffee Agreement. Uganda’s intention to leave was signaled in September 2021.

According to a press release by Uganda Coffee Development Authority, the body wants the International Coffee Organization through its agreement to work on the price volatility , indicators as well as high import tariffs to enable Uganda flourish more in matters coffee.  “We want to have our interests catered for and we think that the ICO needs reforms,” said UCDA managing director Emmanuel Iyamulemye in a statement while in Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

ICO has an arguably richer perspective on coffee’s market history than any other organization globally with it overseeing the International Coffee Agreement which represents all the world’s coffee producing countries and nearly all the world’s coffee consuming countries. With its main aim being bringing together exporting and importing governments to tackle the challenges facing the world coffee sector through international cooperation its agreement has faced a lot of challenges since its adoption.

This International Coffee Agreement has existed in several versions since its adoption in 1962 and was used to regulate global coffee trade as well as stabilize global coffee prices through a quota system until its unfortunate collapse in 1989 and the adoption of the free market era shortly thereafter in the 1990s that has been operating until now.

Uganda, who has been a member of ICO since 2007 elected not to support the extension of ICA since “it did not reflect any new measures to address challenges faced by coffee producers,” according to Uganda Coffee Development Authority.

Uganda is the second high profile coffee producing country to leave the ICO in the past two years after USA, a major funding partner as well as world’s largest coffee buying country also exited during Trump’s administration. Guatemala a notably major coffee producer left with many sector leaders citing lack of protection from the price crisis that has been ongoing for a while now.

International Coffee Organization however gained two more members in 2021, with the UK joining right after Brexit and Nigeria which joined as a coffee producing member. Until Uganda’s departure, the 43 coffee producing member countries accounted for more than 97% of world’s coffee production.

At the beginning of this month, ICO had responded to UCDA’s withdrawal by informing their members that UCDA will no longer issue ICO Certificates of Origin for its coffee exporters. This announcement caused a lot of debate among key players in the coffee business with many arguing that  Uganda would lose its lucrative European market due to this development. However, UCDA managing director Emmanuel Lyamulemye  insists that the negotiations will have no effect on coffee trade as ICO does not market coffee for the nation. Uganda further says that it will ratify the new agreement once her interests are catered for .

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