Kabarole Farmers As District to Invest in Produce Storage Facilities

1420 Views Fort Portal, Uganda

In short
Ronald Mugume, a farmer in Ggeme in Kichwamba Sub County says that his dirty maize has cost him big customers like the World Food Programme WFP.

Overwhelmed by post-harvest losses, farmers in Kabarole want the district to prioritise  investing in proper storage facilities. Farmers lose produce due to poor post-harvest handling.  The post-harvest system comprises activities from the time of harvest, crop processing, marketing and preparation to consumption. 

The most affected are beans, rice and maize farmers. They lack machines to clean, dry and store their produce which compromises quality. Majority of the farmers dry their maize on bare ground and dirty surfaces exposing it to dust and stones. The farmers want the District Production Department to budget for the construction of big storage facilities at each sub county.  

Ronald Mugume, a farmer in Ggeme in Kichwamba Sub County says that his dirty maize has cost him big customers like the World Food Programme (WFP). He explains that the maize produce is wasted or sold at give-away prices due to inadequate post-harvest facilities and lack of effective processing or preservation techniques.

Mugume adds that he is forced to travel to Fort Portal town to clean his maize and incurs over 100,000 Shillings on transport and other services.

 //Cue in: "when harvesting crops…
Cue out: "…in our villages."//

Jane Musinguzi says last year she harvested 3,000 kilos of maize grain and lost 80 percent of it to rats, contamination and infestation due to poor storage. Musinguzi erected a grass thatched maize store with a capacity of storing over 30 bags. 

However this doesn't help her since his produce still goes bad and is invaded by rodents. She explains that once the District erects storage facilities, it will minimise post-harvest loses which they incur as a result of poor storage.

Amos Mugume, the Kabarole District Production Coordinator admits that farmers are largely subsistence and lack sufficient means to get proper storage facilities. According to Mugume, last month at least 70 per cent of farmers interviewed said they suffered losses during handling of their produce. 

He explains that they are encouraging farmers to form groups and embrace the warehouse receipt system to store their produce as they wait for better market prices. A study carried out by Uganda Cooperative Alliance (UCA) and Uganda National Farmers' Federation (UNFFE) this year indicates that post-harvest losses in Uganda are estimated at between 5 and 15 percent for cereals and legumes 20-25 percent for root and tubers and over 35 percent for fruits and vegetables. 

The study also indicates that the World Food Programme cancelled $6m (about sh15b) worth of contracts with Ugandan grain traders because their produce did not meet the required standards. A report jointly released by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Bank on Tuesday says sub-Sahara Africa is losing as much as 4 billion dollars every year due to post-harvest grain losses.

The report suggests that investing in post-harvest technologies to reduce food losses could significantly increase the food supply in the region.


 

About the author

Emmanuel Kajubu
Emmanuel Kajubu is proud to have been the first Ugandan journalist to write in depth pieces about the Tooro Kingdom institution. His knowledge of the inner workings of the Tooro Kingdom is what made him privy to the splits in the royal family. These splits almost challenged Tooro Omukama Oyo Nyimba Iguru's reign.

Culture, agriculture and the environment are just two areas of many of interest to Kajubu. As long as he has held a pen, Kajubu has also written about public policy, health and crime.

Kajubu is keen on impacting his society not just as a writer but also a trainer and mentor. Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts fall under his docket. Kajubu has been a URN staff member since 2008.