The price of watermelon in Northern Uganda is on the rise following scarcity of the crop occasioned by heavy rains that destroyed several acres of melon while it was still in the farmland.
Watermelon prices have since doubled from Shs 3000-4,000 to Shs 6,000-8,000.
Benson Odoki, a farmer in Alero Sub County in Nwoya, said he normally earns Shs 10m from an acre of water melon, but this time, he has been only able to get five million after the rains destroyed most of his crop while it was in the garden.
“Water melon is very labour intensive. After the losses we have made this season due to the rains, some farmers have vowed to abandon growing this fruit,’’ he said.
Juliet Akite Oundo, whose source of livelihood is melon growing, said the change in weather is to blame for the losses made this season.
“We have had the rains throughout, something that has affected us so much. Some farmers depend on loans to run farming activities and if the money is not realised, what is next for them?’’ she wondered.
Oundo added that despite being in the watermelon business for the last nine years, with Kenya being her key market, this season she has only been able to supply half of what she traditionally has.
Gerald Okwii, another watermelon seller at Olailong market in Gulu West Division affirmed the scarcity of supply for the fruit at the moment, citing competition from external matters.
“Some farmers prefer to sell either in South Sudan or Kenya where the prices are double ours here. Meanwhile even the customers who buy from us are complaining of the high prices; we are just at crossroads,’’ he said.
District Commercial Officer, Kenneth Kitara, advised all farmers to join formal groups so that in case the ventures they are involved in do not meet their expectations, they can be given a helping hand.
He recommended that the farmers form SACCOs so that in case of such losses in farming, they can be helped by government
“As much as you are doing farming individually, there is a need to team up so that you can have a common voice. It’s not only water melon farmers, but even others especially maize farmers who were equally affected.’’
The Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) has consistently encouraged farmers to venture into watermelon growing and marketing.
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