OMORO – The second shutdown of schools for 42 days to slow the spread of Covid-19 is beginning to bite farmers hard as suppliers of beans to schools are crying foul already.
Interviewed recently by theCooperator, Molly Awino, a produce buyer and seller at Lalogi Sub County Headquarters, said eight bags of her beans have gone bad already – nine days into the schools shutdown.
Awino said she’s a major supplier of beans to schools. The shutdown, she said, has locked her out of business.
Awino said she is still stuck with 180 bags of beans after failing to find alternative markets in the whole region.
“I have moved from Acholi to Karamoja but still there is no hope. Our supply chain has been affected,” Awino added.
Awino said a bag of beans, which in the past sold for Shs 180,000, is now down to Shs 130,000.
Grace Abalo, a farmer in Loyoajonga village, Lalogi Sub County, said she is stuck with 240 bags of beans at home.
Abalo said 47 bags are already rotten.
“I was hoping that schools would resume and supply begins but now the losses will have to continue,” Abalo said.
In Gulu City, Alfred Ojok, the chairperson of Produce Buyers and Sellers at Cereleno Market, said tons of beans are rotting in stores.
He said the poor post-harvest handling of beans has locked them out of international markets.
Ruth Mugisha, the northern Uganda regional coordinator of the Uganda Forum for Agricultural Advisory, said poor post-harvest handling practices have diminished the market for local produce.
“We couldn’t have limited our products to domestic markets if we had maintained quality standards of post-harvest practices in the country,” Mugisha added.
Thomas Okello, the production officer for Lira District Local Government and the Interim chairman of the Northern Uganda Agricultural Platform, advised farmers to form cooperatives.
“Our farmers can do better when they organize themselves into cooperatives. They can negotiate for bulk markets where individuals can’t,” Okello said.
In his budget speech last week for the new financial year, the Minister for Planning Amos Lugoloobi pinpointed the challenges eroding agricultural production in the country.
He singled out low productivity, insufficiencies in public investments, lack of quality standards, limited funds and markets among others.
About Shs 1.67 trillion was allocated to agro-industrialization while Shs 7 billion was allocated to improve standards for export commodities.
Buy your copy of thecooperator magazine from one of our country- wide vending points or an e-copy on emag.thecooperator.news