Members of Nwoya Fruit Growers’ Cooperative Society are out of options on where to sell their mangoes due to disruption of their market resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
Nwoya Fruit Growers’ Cooperative Society, which has about 2500 members, was formed in 2018, with the sole aim of growing fruits trees such as mangoes, oranges and guavas.
For most of the members, their orchards are their main source of income, and before the pandemic, they had buyers from as far as Kenya, D.R. Congo and South Sudan, all of which are in lockdown.
Simon Peter Oryem, Vice Chairperson Nwoya Fruit Growers’ Cooperative Society Limited, says the mangoes on one of his two-acre orchard have started ripening, but there is no market for the fruits.
Oryem expected to get at least one million shillings from selling the exotic mangoes, but because of the pandemic, he now sells at the road path to his home, attracting only a few local buyers, many of whom offer a much lower price for the fruit than he is accustomed to getting.
“These are big mangoes that we used to sell at Shs 1,000 each. But which village person buys a mango fruit at Shs1000?” Oryem asked.
He says he now earns only Shs 500 from selling two mangoes or even more
“Last year I got about Shs 900, 000 from selling my acres of mangoes. I had buyers from as far as Panyimur market and Malaba who came and bought the mangoes for resale,” Oryem said.
Dr. Julian Adyeri Omalla, the founder and CEO of Delight Uganda Limited and Chairperson of Nwoya Fruit Growers Cooperative Society Limited, says 50 percent of her fruits have rotted in the orchard, because of the lockdown, and the ones that are taken to the market take forever to be sold out.
Adyeri, who owns 800 acres of mangoes, oranges and guava trees in Nwoya district and is in her third year of selling fruits says she never imagined she would make such a huge loss in her business.
“The last mangoes we brought to Kafumbe Mukasa but they are not buying. Even right now I am offloading about 20 lorries of mangoes at Kawempe, but the buyers are not there. I have made 10 tonnes of mango pulp but I have nowhere to sell them,” she said.
Farmers frustrated by the national market cannot resort to selling locally as it is mango season in Northern Uganda, and many homes have their own fruit trees, and local mangoes are going for as low as Shs 500 for 10 fruits.
“In addition, other small farmers are also selling here and I can’t compete with them. It is tough; I can say I have made a 75% loss this season,” Adyeri said.
Vincent Langole, Advisor to the Board of Nwoya Fruit Growers Cooperative Society, says the loss made by fruit farmers this year is unimaginable.
Members of the Nwoya Fruit Cooperative Society Limited alone have planted 5000 acres of fruit trees,. Additionally, there are 80 Trade Agents distributed all over Nwoya district, each of them in charge of between 20-25 local fruit farmers in different sub-counties, with facilitation from ABI Trust.
“Each of these local farmers has at least 2 acres of fruit trees. Although we have not taken statistics of the ripening fruit trees because of the lockdown, I estimate that about 6000 acres of fruit trees are going to waste,” Langole said.