Produce stores worth over Shs 500m have been constructed for three farmer cooperatives in Nwoya district in an effort to boost post-harvest handling.
One store worth Shs169.2mwas built for Koch Goma Cooperative Savings and Credit Society Limited in Koch Goma Sub-county, a second worth Shs172.5m in Lungulu Sub-county for West Acholi and Cooperative Union Limited, and a third one worth Shs 170m was constructed for Nwoya Cassava and Rice Grower’s Cooperative Society at Wii Anaka in Purongo sub-county.
The produce stores were constructed with funding from the Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP).
ACDP is a partnership project of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and the World Bank, financed by the International Development Assistance (IDA) of the World Bank.
Nwoya District Agriculture Officer (DCO), Alfred Kilama said that the stores, which are yet to be commissioned, will greatly help in combating post-harvest handling.
“The stores have been equipped with machines like rice millers and threshers to help farmers add value to their produce,” he said.
Kilama disclosed that 14 other stores are still under construction in various sub-counties in Nwoya district, also under ACDP.
In 2020, statistics showed that at least seven out of 23 produce stores in Nwoya district had been abandoned by farmers for various reasons, including low production by farmers who decided to store their little produce at home.
Some of the produce stores were also shunned by farmers because they had not been constructed in response to actual demand on the ground.
To avoid a repeat of this, Kilama says that the new produce stores are demand-driven.
The DCO said that the stores were demanded by the beneficiaries who are either in cooperatives or organized groups capable of producing in large quantities and adding value to a particular crop.
“It was a requirement that they must be serious farmers who are growing a similar crop in large quantities. They are also required to contribute 33% of the funding, which could be in kind, such as land, bricks, sand among others,” he said.
Jackeline Adokorach, the Manager, Koch Goma Cooperative Society said that the newly constructed produce store will help the over 300 members to store their crops for a longer time.
“Our farmers have been sometimes intimidated to sell at lower prices to middlemen because they don’t have proper storage facilities at home. But we will now start sourcing for the market for the produce since we can now store the produce ourselves,” Adokorach said.
The farmers under Koch Goma Cooperative mainly grow beans, rice, and maize.
Adokorach revealed that the cooperative also benefitted from a threshing machine, bag closer, sifting and sealing machine, and a solar system to power their office under the ACDP program.
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