Adjumani sunflower growers suffer losses as prices drop

ADJUMANI: More than 500 sunflower farmers in Adjumani district under the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda [DINU] piloting the growing of oil seed crops want government to intervene in the sunflower market, saying buyers are offering very low prices that cannot even cover production costs.

The farmers claim they buy the sunflower seeds expensively yet buyers at the end of the season offer low prices that do not cover the cost of production.

Godfrey Drici of Tamana village, Openziznzi Parish Adropi Sub-county in Adjumani district said despite making losses, he has grown sunflower in the last three years because it is resistant to climatic change and is not labour intensive.

“We buy the seeds for planting at the cost of Shs 65,000 per kilogramme [kg] yet at the end of the season, buyers offer us Shs 1,200 per kg. We also have challenges of seed dormancy where some seeds do not germinate and these leaves us in loss,” Drici said.

Drici also said, “At the parish, we produce close to 4tones of sunflower every season, but we need the assistance of the government to intervene to regulate the price of sunflower. We don’t sell it at our own price but the price is imposed on us, yet we use the money to open land and buy the seedlings expensively.”

Alice Muraa, 34, a resident of Tamana village said she has been planting sunflower at least two seasons every year in the last three years.

Muraa said last season she harvested six sacks of sunflower expecting to earn Shs500,000 from the sale of each sack but was shocked to only get Shs 226,000 per sack.

She called upon government to come to regulate sunflower prices, saying that planting seeds are expensive yet buyers offer low prices for the produce at the end of the season.

“If I get support from the government, I am willing to expand even up to 10 acres, but at Shs 65, 000 per kilogramme,  I am not able to buy seeds for more than three acres. We feel cheated by the buyers because they buy our sunflower cheaply,” she said.

What extension workers say

James Logwenya Vuciri the agriculture officer of Dzaipi Sub-county affirmed that the cost of production of sunflowers is very expensive for small-scale farmers because the farmers need 2kgs to plant an acre.

He said the government has intervened through DINU which is being implemented in the five sub-counties of Adjumani that includes Dzaipi, Pakele, Adropi, Itirikwa, and Ukosijoni that promote oil seeds crop production like sunflowers and soybeans.

According to the Vuciri, the farmers are planting a highbred variety that was imported from South Africa which is being inspected by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Fisheries [MAAIF] and it is being imported by Mukwano Industries, which then becomes very difficult for government to regulate the price locally.

“The hybrid seeds cannot be replanted and if they repeat they will get low and poor yields, but farmers who have replanted have experienced how difficult it is, we can only advise them to increase the price so that they can cover the cost of production,” Vuciri said.

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