Members of Kyegegwa Fruit Farmers Association (KFFA) have cried foul as 10 tonnes of their maize rots away in storage as a result of the Covid-19-related lockdown.
According to Emmanuel Mutungi, the association’s Chairperson, although they primarily focus on fruits, they decided to open up a maize-and-beans store to supplement their savings.
“Our association’s main focus is on fruits, but since they are seasonal, we decided to open up a store for beans and maize to supplement our savings. That way we have some income even when it’s not harvesting season for fruits,” Mutungi said.
According to Mutungi, members realized that their savings are always low when it’s not fruit season.
“We then decided to open up a store where farmers can bring beans and maize. Part of the proceeds from what each brings goes to his or her savings, and the remaining is given to him or her to take care of other needs.”
However, Mutungi says business has come to a standstill during the lockdown period, because the people who used to buy their produce no longer come.
“We used to sell our produce to brokers from as far as Masaka, Sembabule, and Kampala among other districts, but because of the strict directives by the president such as the ban on public transport, these people no longer come,” he said.
Mutungi added that the association’s savings are now very low due to the reduction in their income sources.
The area’s poor road network does not help.
“There is no market for food in Kyegegwa since most people are involved in farming, but transporting our produce to other areas that might need food is not easy because our roads are also very poor, so we are stuck with our things,” he said.
Currently, the association has 10 tonnes of maize in store, with no customers in sight.
KFFA General Secretary, Jackson Busingye Bamwesiga, said that loan recovery is also very low due to the lockdown because some of the farmers’ businesses such as bars and sports betting clubs were closed.
“Though food markets were left to continue operating, many farmers in Kyegegwa are enjoying their food because there is no transport to the market and market for their produce is very low,” Bamwesiga said.
The association’s General Secretary warned that if the lockdown is not lifted soon, the situation may further deteriorate.
On May 4, 2020, the president extended the national lockdown 14 more days.
By press time, Uganda had registered 121 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 55 recoveries.