Maize farmers in Sebei region now have reason to smile following a plan by the Sebei Elgon Cooperative Society to resume buying maize from farmers, processing and packing it for sale.
The move, according to Elisha Bureto, the cooperative’s Secretary Manager, aims at increasing farmers’ benefits from their produce through value addition to maize production..
Bureto said many maize farmers in the Sebei region have been earning peanuts from the sale of their produce.
“Once we resume business this year, farmers can be assured of good earning since the cooperative will buy maize at Shs. 1,300 per kilo compared to the Shs. 1000 per kilo price offered by buyers from outside,” he said.
Founded in 1963, Sebei Elgon cooperative is one of the oldest cooperative societies in Eastern Uganda. It is owned by farmers through organized primary cooperative societies in the Sebei region.
According to Bureto, the cooperative has traditionally been interested in maize processing. He says that in the early 1990’s Sebei Elgon Cooperative Society used to buy, process and pack maize flour, but was unable to sustain it because not enough farmers grew maize to keep the enterprise running.
“The farmers growing maize at the time were so few, unlike now. So, the cooperative was forced to leave maize and concentrate on coffee since there were many more farmers producing coffee,” he said.
Butero revealed that the cooperative still has all its maize processing machines, although some of them were vandalized in the past. These, he said, are easily repaired.
“The good thing with maize processing and packing is that it requires low capital to begin and operate, unlike coffee which requires a lot of capital including buying machines for roasting and packing coffee,” he said.
He noted that maize flour has a ready market including within the Sebei region itself where it is a staple.
Rogers Chelimo one of the maize farmers in Ngenge Sub County in Kween district could not hide his excitement upon hearing the cooperative’s plan saying it is long overdue.
“I have been producing 110 tonnes of maize for two harvesting seasons but I get little money for it. I believe that if the cooperative starts buying maize from us, it will be an advantage for us the farmers,” he said.