Moroto Residents Worried as Food Prices Soar

Muhammed Munyasi, a businessman dealing mainly in agro-produce attributes the alarming food prices to poor storage mechanisms used in the country.
Moroto residents are worried about the continuous rise in food prices in the district. Food prices have been increasing in Moroto since January due to prolonged drought in the region.  

  Karamoja districts only received some showers towards the end of April after more than five months of severe heat.  

A kilogram of maize grain that cost between Shillings 1000 to 1500 in January now costs between Shillings 2000 and 2700.  

  Rice has increased from Shillings 3800 in January to 5000 shillings. Beans have also shot up to Shillings 4200 per kilogram from Shillings 3600 in January. 

Although Karamoja usually realizes increments in food prices at the beginning of the year, the 2019 prices have hit hard residents. Compared with 2018 in May, there is a huge difference in food prices that range between Shillings 500 and 1500.

Muhammed Munyasi, a businessman dealing mainly in agro-produce attributes the alarming food prices to poor storage mechanisms used in the country. 

“If there were good storage facilities in the country, we would have no scarcity of agricultural produce since Uganda is gifted with a good climate that favors farming throughout the year in different parts of the country”, he said. 

Munyasi urged government to regulate agricultural trade especially exports that he observed is affecting food supply in local markets.

According to Mark Loli, the Moroto District Agricultural Officer, the rise in food prices was caused by heavy rainfalls that destroyed crops between June and October last year.

  He notes that there was little or no harvest realized in 2018 as few crops that survived were also ravaged by pests and diseases like the fall army warm. 

Loli urged farmers to utilize the ongoing rains to plant improved and fast maturing crops like maize, beans and sorghum to save the hunger situation. 

Robert Ojangole, the chairperson of the business community in South Division in Moroto Municipality observes that the food situation has been worsened by exports to Turkana.

    He notes that most traders have now discovered good markets in Turkana, Kenya and have resorted to such markets.  He also noted that the livestock quarantine in Moroto has affected demand for food since many locals cannot afford to buy any food.

  Many people in Karamoja rely on cattle trade to earn a living.  Thomas Loru, a resident of Kangole trading center in Napak district, says the food situation has forced many residents to sell their animals cheaply.

“While food prices have gone up, animal prices have drastically reduced. Some families sell two to three animals but cannot get enough food to sustain them for a month”, he said.

He adds that a number of locals have resorted to cutting trees for charcoal; a situation he observed might have more drastic effects on weather.