Govt invests Shs 600mln in Katakwi rice processing facility

KATAKWI – Smallholder farmers in Katakwi district in eastern Uganda will no longer have to trek long distances in search of processing mills, as government has provided Shs 600 million for the construction of  a rice processing facility in the district.

The rice processing mill, funded by the Local Economic Growth Support [LEGS] project, is to be located in Ocorimongin Weekly Cattle Market.

The construction of the rice processing facility is being undertaken by Tona Construction Limited and is expected to be completed by June this year.

However, while commissioning the construction works of the processing plant on Tuesday, Vice President, Jessica Alupo warned the contractor against shoddy work.

She explained that government doesn’t condone shoddy work in its projects and that any contractor who does shoddy work shall be dealt with accordingly.

The Vice President also warned the contractor against failure to deliver work within the stipulated time.

Meanwhile, Assumpta Tibamwenda, who represented the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government at the launch said that the rice processing plant once installed, will have the capacity to process two metric tons of rice per day.

He explained the plant would grade rice as it separates the grains from stones and other unwanted elements. To be provided with a warehouse to store paddy rice as well, the rice plant will start operations in July this year.

“When completed, it is expected to attract a huge market for paddy rice from smallholder farmers in Katakwi district and the nearby districts, as well as ensure the availability of processed rice for the domestic market,” said Tibamwenda.

According to Tibamwenda, the plant comes timely as the government endevours to boost domestic production instead of the country relying on imported milled rice.

“This is one of the government initiatives to increase domestic rice production, reduce post-harvest losses as well bring value addition closer to the farming households so that they improve their livelihoods and incomes,” said Tibamwenda.

He noted that the processing plant would create direct and indirect jobs, which he said would further e boost economic activities in the district.

Michael Ilemut, one of the rice growers in Magoro Sub-county said he moves about 24 kilometres to process and sell rice due to the absence of a milling machine in the area.

“I would sell it as paddy or in the garden to avoid high cost of transportation but in doing so I’m always cheated,” said Ilemut.

However, with the construction of rice processing plants in the area, Ilemut is optimistic that farmers will be able to cut costs incurred in search of rice mills in far places.

“We will no longer suffer with middlemen who cheat us, we will process our rice here t home and sell it at a good price,” explained another farmer Mary Adeke.

Silver Ongom, the Katakwi district production officer applauded the government for the support. He described milling plants as key actors in the rice value chain, adding that they also act as marketing centres where farmers, traders, millers meet and transact business.

Ongom, therefore, rallied rice farmers in the district to form cooperatives so as to have better bargaining power and speak with one voice.

About leg project

The LEGS project is an integrated rural development initiative financed by Islamic Development Bank and the Government of Uganda.

The four years project is being implemented in the districts of Alebtong, Bunyangabu, Gomba, Kabarole, Katakwi, Kibuku, Kumi, Kyenjojo, Nakaseke, and Ntoroko among others.

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