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Bundibugyo Cocoa Farmers Decry The Gradual Fall in Produce Prices

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Alima Komuhangi says middle men only come and tell them that the prices have gone down without giving them any explanation. The farmer who also buys fresh cocoa from other farmers for resale asks the government to intervene and stabilize the prices.
A cocoa garden in Nyahuka Sub County

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Cocoa farmers in Bundibugyo district are decrying the gradual fall in the prices of their produce. The farmers say Cocoa prices have drastically reduced since December last year. They are also asking the government to honour its pledge of putting up a cocoa factory in the district with hope that it would eliminate middlemen who are exploiting them. 



Bernard Magezi, a Cocoa farmer in Kyamazi II in Buganikire town council, says that the prices of their produce has been going down drastically. For example, Magezi was selling a kilo of organic cocoa between Shillings 8500 and Shillings 8300 in 2020.

He, however, says that a kilogram of cocoa now costs between Shillings 7200 and 6000 on the farm depending on the level of dryness.

 

//Cue in: “Bani abagula cocoa…   

Cue out: ...nebakuya ebeeyi.”// 


Magezi says middlemen and local companies monopolize the price of their produce since farmers cannot reach the final buyers. He criticizes the government for acting slow on establishing a cocoa factory, which he believes could give them better prices. 

//Cue in: “Waano tyagala factory…   

Cue out: …tetuwereza nakantu.”// 

Olive Kahunde, another farmer from Nyahuka Sub County told URN that the low prices are discouraging her production efforts.  The farmer is afraid that she might not recover the investment from the ongoing harvesting this season.

Steven Gobelya, a farmer and local leader in Nyahungu village in Kisi Sub County, says that the future of the cocoa business is uncertain. He says the returns are low and that they are struggling to break free from poverty.   

//Cue in: “Toina constant price…   

Cue out: …netuyamba muno.”//



Alima Komuhangi says middle men only come and tell them that the prices have gone down without giving them any explanation. The farmer who also buys fresh cocoa from other farmers for resale asks the government to intervene and stabilize the prices.

//Cue in: “Anti ffe tufuna lose… 

 

Cue out: ...nyo nekalira.”//

In Ntoroko, Jimmy Bagonza says the prices of the produce have equally gone down. They are now selling a kilogram of cocoa between Shillings 6,000 and 9,000 compared to last year when it went for as high as Shillings 10,000. 

But Ali Bagonza, the managing director of BTM Company, which buys and exports cocoa blames the price fluctuations for the poor quality of the produce. He says sometimes farmers produce offseason leading to very low bean count. Bagonza also blames the price drop on the costs involved in getting the produce in a district characterized by rough terrain. 


//Cue in: “On season a bean… 

Cue out: …for five bags.”// 



Other sector players say the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has also left a few exporters in the market affecting demand. Bagonza says they are teaching farmers on producing quality cocoa and post-harvest-handling.

//Cue in: “We trained them… 

Cue out: …it really dry.”//  

Emmanuel Lubega, the Uganda-South Sudan national coordinator at the East African Business Council-EABC, is advocating for the establishment of an independent authority to oversee cocoa production. 

//Cue in: “We want to see… 

 Cue out: …that exploit the.”// 

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