Poverty Forces Rakai Farmers to Sell Mangoes at Flowering Stage

4595 Views Rakai town, Uganda

In short
Most of the farmers sold off their mangoes to middlemen at flowering stage at a giveaway price because of biting poverty.

Farmers in Rakai are benefiting nothing from the mango boom in the district because they sold off their produce to middlemen at flowering stage. Currently, Rakai district is enjoying a boom in the mango business. Despite the boom, majority of the farmers are looking on as middlemen cash in on the huge returns.
Most of the farmers sold off their mangoes to middlemen at flowering stage at a giveaway price because of biting poverty. The farmers sold off their mango trees to middlemen at the cost of between 30000 shillings to 70000 shillings each. However, the middlemen are reaping huge returns because of a bumper harvest.

Kizito Lutaaya, the Chairperson Kasasa Fruits and Crops Farmers association says for the last three seasonal years, farmers have been selling mangoes at flowering stage. He explains that middlemen enter into written agreements with the farmers and buy their mangoes at this stage. He explains that in Kasasa Sub County and Katuuto Sub County, at least 1000 farmers sold off their mangoes at flowering stage last year.
According to Lutaaya, after paying for the mangoes trees, the middlemen tie the mangoes trees with ropes as sign that they are out of bounds to the owner until the harvesting is done.
He explains in Luganda.
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Timothy Mbaziira, the Kasasa Sub County LC3 Chairperson says currently, farmers are looking on as middlemen who bought their mangoes at flowering stage are harvesting. He estimates that in Kasasa alone, over 200 farmers sold their mangoes at flowering stage.

Mbaziira also says the selling of mangoes at flowering stage has left farmers and the sub county which gets some money from them without incomes.

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Boona Kajura is a farmer in Kasasa Sub County. He owns five mangoes trees. Although the sub county is currently enjoying the mango boom, his trees are empty after they were harvested early this month.

Kajura says he sold the mangoes at flowering stage to get money to clear fees for his six children at Mayanja primary school. He does not explain how much he sold the mangoes on his trees. Kajura however says that he sold the mangoes because he didn’t have any alternative source of income yet he had to pay fees for his children.  
Kajuna admits that he made a loss given the fact that the middleman who bought his mango tress harvested 30 sucks of mangoes. Mathias Kasamba, the Kakuuto MP claims that due to poverty many farmers are selling their mangoes and other crops such as coffee and maize before harvesting.
He explains that majority of residents in Kakuuto do not have an assured income flow, which has exposed them to middlemen.

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Benon Mugabi, the Rakai LC5 Chairperson says the district wants to regulate middlemen from what he calls ripping farmers apart. He says the district executive has tabled a motion to impose a tax to regulate the activities of the middlemen.
He says they want the district and sub county to be involved in drafting the agreements reached between farmers and middlemen.

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Several traders are rushing to Rakai to buy off these mangoes which they sell to Rwanda and Nakasero market in Kampala. Some the traders also exported the mangoes to South Sudan before the conflict.


About the author

Edward Bindhe
Bindhe prides himself on being a part of the society he writes about. He believes there is no way a journalist can understand his society unless it considers him a part of it. This is why he is dedicated to investigating the challenges of the "little person."

Bindhe says, "My work reflects the Uganda Radio Network unique approach to news." Not many Ugandan journalists would consider or even notice the re-emergence of Water Hyacinth on a lake. Bindhe does.

Truant children will attract Bindhe's attention until he gets to the bottom of their truancy: poverty and the need to work to earn bread for their families. These are the kinds of stories Bindhe is often after.

Edward Bindhe is the Masaka URN bureau chief. Rakai, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Kalangala, Mpigi, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi and Sembabule districts fall under his docket. He has been a URN staff member since 2009.

A Mass Communication graduate from Uganda Christian University, Bindhe started practising journalism in 2008 as a reporter for Radio Buddu in Masaka district.