The closure of schools and all the institutions of learning
to curtail the second wave of the coronavirus has killed markets as farmers, with the most affected produce being beans which have started rotting away in the stores.
In an interview recently with Uganda
Radio Network, Molly Awino, a produce buyer and seller at Lalogi Sub County
Headquarters says 8 bags of her beans have rotten.
Awino explained that she depended on schools for supply of
beans which came to a halt when the Institutions were closed in the first phase
of the lockdown.
Awino says she is still stranded with 180 bags of beans
after she failed to find markets for the produce even when she traversed the
region hunting for the markets.
“I have moved from Acholi to Karamoja but still there is no
hope for market” Awino sobbed.
Awino revealed that a bag of beans which was bought at
180,000 shillings is now sold cheaply at 130,000 shillings.
Grace Abalo, a farmer in Loyoajonga village also from Lalogi
Sub County similarly noted that she is stuck with 240 bags of beans at home after
she cannot find the markets for the produce.
Abalo also faces the same problem like other famers and has
had 47 bags of her beans already rotten.
“I was hoping that the schools would resume and the supply
begins but now the losses will have to continue” Abalo further explained.
At Gulu City, Alfred Ojok, the Chairperson Produce Buyers
and Sellers at Cereleno Market revealed that tons of beans have rotten in
stores due to lack of the markets.
He blamed the phenomenon on the poor post-harvest handling which
he says has affected the markets in the East African States and other
Ruth Mugisha, the Northern
Uganda Regional Coordinator Uganda Forum for Agricultural Advisory noted that
the practices of good post-harvest handling have remained low in the country
affecting the markets.
“We couldn’t have limited our products to the domestic
markets if we had maintained the quality standards which get back to poor
post-harvest practices in the Country,” Mugisha added.
However, Thomas Okello, the Production Officer for Lira
District Local Government and the Interim Chairman for Northern Uganda
Agricultural Platform has advised the farmers to form Cooperatives.
“Our farmers can do better when they organise themselves into
Cooperatives and in that they can negotiate for a bulk markets where
individuals can’t” Okello added.
While presenting the budget for the new financial
year, State Minister of Finance Amos Lugoloobi recognized challenges
affecting agricultural production in the country.
Among the outstanding setbacks in the sector are low
productivity, insufficiencies in public investments, lack of quality standards,
limited funds and markets among others.
While 1.67 trillion was allocated for
agro-industrialization, 7 billion was also allocated for addressing standards
for commodity exports, but smallholder farmers have narrow markets with the