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Coronavirus hits farmers

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Kampala, Uganda | RONALD MUSOKE | Ugandan farmers are among the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures

in Africa according to research released on Oct.16 by Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), an independent international development organisation that works to empower communities in developing countries.

The VSO survey which was published to coincide with World Food Day was conducted in June and July across Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria. It asked 1,800 farmers and SMEs to rate how the pandemic has affected their livelihoods on a scale of not at all to severely. A significant percentage of farmers told the researchers that they are facing huge financial challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures.

Twenty-three per cent of those interviewed across the five countries said a lack of cash had reduced their food intake. The highest proportion was amongst Ugandans where more than 38% of the respondents reported reducing their food intake. The respective figures for reducing food intake were 25% of Tanzanians, 24% in Nigeria, 21% in Kenya and 15% in Ethiopia.

Other coping mechanisms included taking out loans or borrowing, using up previous stocks, and relying on government and NGO support. Twenty three percent of the respondents relied on borrowing, another 24% consumed previous stocks, over 9% received government support and over 7% received support from NGOs. Of those who rated the issue as severe, 15% were receiving no support at all from governments and NGOs.

“What comes through in our surveys is a sense of urgency, people are telling us they will soon run out of options, their current coping strategies such as reducing food intake or borrowing money from friends and family, will no longer be feasible within a short time, certainly by the new year,”said Ruchi Tripathi, the Global Practice Lead for Resilient Livelihoods at VSO.

“In the short-term, urgent action is needed in terms of food and cash assistance to the most marginalised communities, women and other groups around the world,” she said, “There is an opportunity to ensure any food purchased is from local smallholder farmers to support their livelihoods and revive local economies. But beyond that, we need to build a more food secure future for the long term.”

In April this year the government distributed relief food to about 1.5 million urban poor who were affected by the lockdown as a measure to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. But it appears it needs to do more.

The VSO study follows another recent nationwide analysis by the Uganda government and UN humanitarian agencies which found people in nine urban areas to be at “crisis level” of food insecurity thanks to negative impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, the Ministry for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Kampala Capital City Authority, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and WFP participated in the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis.  The European Union, World Bank and UK Aid funded the exercise.

The analysis was informed in part by real-time data gathered by remote telephone monitoring of households in 13 urban areas, refugee hosting districts and Karamoja region in the northeast.

According to the analysis, one in three people in the towns of Gulu, Jinja and Kasese struggled to find nutritious food on a regular basis during the lockdown.  The IPC attributed the crisis food insecurity to the loss of livelihoods in the informal sector, tourism, the travel and events industry and the education sector, reduced remittances and reduced commercial networks due to the closure of borders.

Using real-time and other data, the IPC found that refugees in all 13 settlements in Uganda along with more than 1.4 million Ugandans in refugee-hosting districts and Karamoja region experienced crisis or worse levels of hunger between June and August. In Karamoja, all districts had worrying levels of malnutrition among young children and pregnant and nursing women, with malnutrition above emergency levels in Moroto and Napak.

The assessment also found that between February and August, rates of life-threatening malnutrition were above emergency levels in Moroto and Napak in Karamoja. The rest of the region’s districts were in Alert, meaning they also have relatively high levels of malnutrition.

Poor diets, chronic food shortages, poor sanitation and high levels of diarrhoea and malaria were cited as major contributors to the situation. High workloads for mothers and therefore reduced time for breastfeeding and other childcare were also cited as driving malnutrition.

Original Post: New Vision Wire

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Uganda’s coffee industry eyes new markets, value addition

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But the country still has a lot of coffee that is still being dried on the ground

Kampala, Uganda  Uganda’s coffee industry will seek new international market for their products to reduce over concentration on traditional buyers to boost farmer’s income.

Coffee is the country’s second biggest source of foreign exchange after tourism and provides a living for around 8 million people or about 19% of the population.

“In 2017, stakeholders in the coffee industry discussed the coffee road map on how to accelerate production but also increase income to the farmers,” said Emmanuel Niyibigira, managing director of the regulator, Uganda Coffee Development Authority.

“They were concerned that we need to have value addition for our coffee but also have the demand. We are looking at some markets such as China which has 1.4billion people and it is an emerging market. We are also looking at Middle East, Maghreb region, Eastern Europe though now we have this conflict (between Russia and Urkaine) and also the Balkan states.”

Uganda exports most of its coffee to Italy, Germany, Algeria, India and Sudan.

Niyibigira, who was speaking during the Agribusiness Mkutano 2022 at Mestil Hotel in Kampala on April.28, said the regulator is looking forward to supporting   local coffee businesses for value addition including soluble coffee processing plants.

He said the government aims to ensure that the country has at least two soluble coffee plants in the next five years. He said UCDA and the Uganda Development Corporation, a government investment arm, are carrying out a feasibility study to ascertain its viability.

The country has 38 registered coffee roasters although the government’s plan to have a soluble coffee plant has been on the table since 1994.

“We are also looking at branding our coffee. Most of our coffee is being exported and blended with other coffees due to its good aroma. We need to be recognized as an origin of Ugandan coffee,” Niyibigira said, adding that it is unacceptable that countries including  India, Vietnam and others in Latin America, which also produce huge volumes of coffee, import Ugandan coffee beans especially Robusta  only to blend with their coffees to boost  aroma and  fetch premium prices on the international market.

Niyibigira, however, noted that the industry still faces some challenges.

“We still have a lot of coffee that is still being dried on the ground,” he said, adding that low bean sizes, low productivity as well as pests and diseases are being addressed with new coffee varieties.

Tony Mugoya, the executive director at the Uganda Coffee Farmers Alliance said as the country pursues value addition in the coffee industry, farmers should be able to sale their products to the highest bidder.

“Uganda is a free market economy and us as farmers, we shall give our coffee to anyone who offers the highest price. That is all we want,” he said. “So the more the people or companies in the market, the more competition and the better for us.”

The government has in past weeks faced opposition over its move to exclusively grant Enrica Pinetti-owned Uganda Vinci Coffee Company to purchase and export the country’s coffee.

Mugoya said as the country embrace value addition, they should be aware of the existing tariff and non-tariff barriers in the international market.

Joseph Nkandu, the executive director of the National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises (Nucafe) said value addition in coffee need to be in the entire value chain.

“Farmers need to own the value addition component beyond the farm level as it enhances their income,” he said.

Nkandu said countries such as Uganda striving to embrace value addition need to enter into partnerships in targeted markets so that the product is easily accepted.

Martha Wandera, managing director at Kimco Coffee Ltd said the government should probably consider setting up a production plant for production of packaging materials for processed coffee to lower coffee prices  stimulate local demand.

She said also suggests that the costs of accessing quality mark be reduced to encourage coffee producers to access the services.

Uganda’s coffee export volumes and earnings has consistently grown over the past 20 years and accounts for 7% of the world’s production.

Last year, farmers exported 6.49million 60 kg bags of coffee worth US$629.8million compared to 5.36million 60kg bags in the 2019/2020 season worth US$512.22million in the previous year.

Source: The Independent 

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Uganda losing agricultural advantage to neighbours – UN.

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Although women are mostly involved in agricultural production, when it comes to marketing of produce, it is the men who dominate the decision-making.

What you need to know:

  • Speaking during the Agribusiness Mkutano (conference) in Kampala, Dr Dmitry Pozhidaev, the United Nations Capital Development Fund country and regional head, said before the 2000s, Uganda was ahead of all East African member states in terms of agriculture productivity, but Rwanda and Kenya have since become superior.

Uganda is losing its agricultural productivity advantage to neighboring countries due to lack of sufficient development in the sector, according to the United Nations Capital Development Fund.
Speaking during the Agribusiness Mkutano (conference) in Kampala, Dr Dmitry Pozhidaev, the United Nations Capital Development Fund country and regional head, said before the 2000s, Uganda was ahead of all East African member states in terms of agriculture productivity, but Rwanda and Kenya have since become superior.

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“Uganda has lost the agricultural productivity advantage [it held] over Rwanda in the early 2000s. It now lags behind Kenya and is much more behind South Africa,” he said, noting that because of low productivity, a number of people have moved to other sectors of economy yet they have low absorption capacity thus exacerbating unemployment.

Dr Pozhidaev also noted that since the 2000s, productivity in the services sector has doubled while that of manufacturing continues to fluctuate.
Under the National Development Plan II, government had sought to realise a 2.2 percent annual increase in agricultural productivity and increase in labour productivity by 40 percent.
However, this has not been achieved, thus frustrating the fight against unemployment in a country where 600,000 youth annually enter the job market.
Therefore, Dr Pozhidaev said, there is need to develop targeted policies, knowledge sharing, skill development and financing of improved agricultural productivity is to be achieved.

The Agribusiness Mkutano under the theme: Uganda@60: Fulfiling the agro-industrialisation agenda for Uganda seeks to reconginse the entire value addition chains as an important player in the fight against unemployment and industrialisation.
Ms Mona Muguma Ssebuliba, the aBi chief executive officer, said there is need to ensure that farmers access credit and grant to improve productivity.
For instance, she noted, aBi was playing a key role in supporting agribusinesses actors in coffee, dairy, cereals, horticulture, oil seeds and poultry value chain to increase their capacity to produce large quantities and quality commodities as well as supporting them with a number of processes to sufficiently supply both the local and international markets.

In the coffee value chain alone, Ms Ssebuliba said, aBi has in the last three years invested Shs17.7b to promote agro-industrialisation with specific interventions seeking to support establishment of coffee hurlers, coffee washing stations and capacity building to access international and niche markets.

Original Source: Monitor

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Tsetse flies invade Kiruhura district

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Tsetse flies spread nagana in livestock.

Kiruhura, Uganda. Kiruhura district has been invaded by tsetse flies with the residents calling for government support to eradicate the pests that have seen several cattle in the area die.

Nyabushozi County Member of Parliament, Wilson Kajwengye raised the matter of national importance during a plenary sitting on Tuesday, 03 May 2022 chaired by Speaker Anita Among.

Kajwengye said that for the past five years, cattle farmers in Kiruhura have borne the burden of fighting tsetse flies, whose cost he said was exorbitant and discouraging to commercial cattle farmers.

“Unfortunately, we have lost the battle because the disease is chronic and cows lose weight. The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has intervened but minimally,” said Kajwengye.

He said that an estimated 100,000 herds of cattle have been affected by the diseases caused by the flies.

Kajwengye said Kiruhura has registered notable financial loss resulting from the decline in milk and beef production.

“It is estimated that the district has lost Shs26 billion and Shs15 billion from sales of milk and beef respectively,” he said.

He prayed that the Ministry of Agriculture should urgently procure and distribute tsetse fly traps saying they are easy to use and are environmentally friendly.

Kajwengye also asked government to urgently provide equipment and other necessary laboratory consumables to Kiruhura district veterinary laboratory, which he said would help improve surveillance.

He also appealed to the ministry to work with the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Antiquities to carryout studies on tsetse fly control measures that would include development of an appropriate acaricide that kills tsetse flies.

Speaker Among said she received similar reports from residents during her recent visit to Kiruhura and asked the Agriculture Ministry to urgently assess the disease burden in the district.

“I think what you need to do is to send a team there to assess the level of the damage that has been caused,” she said.

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