Cooperatives & CommunitiesNorthern

Low prices of sunflower frustrate farmers

KWANIA, November 6, 29023 – Members of Abapiri Oil Seed Cooperative Society in Abapiri parish, Chawente Sub-county in Kwania district are frustrated because of the low prices being offered for their sunflower.

Currently, a kilogramme of sunflower sells at Shs 800 per kilo, a drop from Shs 1,200 per kilo in the last season.

Benson Otim, a member of Abapiri Oil Seed Cooperative Society told this reporter that many sunflower farmers have been counting losses following the low prices. “I cultivated sunflower in the first season but I was not able to raise school fees for my children. I ended up selling a calf. The price of sunflower is too low. They are buying the local sunflower seeds as Shs 500 per kilogramme while the hybrid seeds are going Shs 800 per kilo,” he said.

Another member Debora Alice Acen said the drop in the prices of sunflower has forced many farmers to change to maize production since it is more profitable.

Kwania District Senior Agricultural Officer, Betty Acio Akejo said the oil seed farmers are being cheated by the middlemen and seed companies.

“Image a farmer buys two kilogramme of sunflower seed at Shs 70, 000 and later the company buys at Shs 800 per kilo. To me this is exploitation by the seed companies and the middlemen. As the district we are encouraging our farmers to bulk their produce together because bulking is power, they can enter an MOU with the sunflower companies and address the issue of undetermined prices,” she said in an interview on Friday.

Focus on value addition

Yasin Ssendawula, the Coordinator National Oil Seed Project [NOSP] advised farmers to always add values to their produce before selling in order for them to get money, “I want to encourage our farmers to put emphasis on value addition. They should coordinate with oil refining companies so that instead of selling the sunflower seed they refine and sell it informs of oil and other bi-products with this we can address the challenge,” he said.

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