HC Deb 06 August 1941 vol 373 cc1933-5
23. Mr. Edmund Harvey

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give any information as to the working of the Coffee Control Board in Kenya and the general situation of East African coffee growers; and what steps have been taken to assist African coffee growers in Uganda and Tanganyika?

Mr. George Hall

As the answer is somewhat long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Harvey

Are the Government bearing in mind Lord Lloyd's statement that this is one of the black spots in the Empire?

Mr. Hall

I do not think my hon. Friend will be dissatisfied with the Reply when he sees it.

Following is the Answer:

On 23rd July, 1940, the Kenya Government published in the ''Official Gazette'' an Order under the Defence Regulations, 1939, controlling the marketing and export of coffee. A sub-committee of the local Supply Board was appointed, and it is this committee which is exercising control over the Kenya coffee crop. The primary consideration of the committee is to obtain a price for the crop which will maintain production. Subject to this consideration, it is the intention of the committee to preserve equity within the industry and to enable the various firms engaged in the handling of coffee to continue in operation and to preserve their status vis-à-vis their competitors. The marketing of the crop has therefore been organized so as to make use of existing trade interests, and any departure from this principle will be contemplated only where and to the extent that exigencies of the future render such a course unavoidable. The crop is being sold on a pool basis, and no individual planter will benefit immediately from the restricted sales which may be made to the markets which still pay premium prices for quality coffee. Payments for planters from the pool will, however, be made upon a scale laid down by the committee which will differentiate in value between the various qualities of coffees.

My Noble Friend has recently approved a coffee marketing scheme in Uganda under a special Ordinance, with a Board of Control composed of the Director of Agriculture, the Provincial Commissioner of the Eastern Province and the Accountant-General. To carry out the scheme a company is being formed which will be composed of the three firms at present operating the buying in a part of the area. The company will be the managing agent of the Board, and, subject to the supervision and control of the Board, will carry out the whole of the business of buying and processing coffee in the area affected by the scheme.

As regards the coffee industry in East Africa generally, it is hoped that a certain quantity may be imported into this country during the next 12 months and that other markets will be found in Canada, the United States of America, South Africa, Australia, Egypt, the Sudan and certain Near East countries. In addition local military and civil requirements may provide an outlet for some of the production.

The present control system in Kenya has not been extended to the other territories.