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Farmers count losses as drought hits north



Mr Alex Ogwang, a farmer in Alito Sub-county, Kole District, shows his soybean garden that was scorched by the dry spell on August 6.

Thousands of farmers in northern Uganda have witnessed low yields during the first planting season because of a prolonged dry spell that has hit the region this year.
A mini-survey conducted by Daily Monitor reveals that majority of the farmers that planted groundnuts, beans, maize and soybean made  huge losses, with a few able to get excess produce for sale.

The survey indicates that most crops planted in the first planting season withered in the gardens due to the dry spell that lasted almost three months from April.
In Kole, for instance, farmers under their umbrella body – Alito Joint Christian Farmers’ Cooperative Society (AJCFCS) – made a loss of Shs4.8 billion due to low yields.

AJCFCS has 14,815 members scattered across nine districts that make up the Lango Sub-region. Other members are in Omoro, Nwoya, Amuru, Pader and Agago districts in Acholi Sub-region, as well as Abim District in Karamoja Sub-region.
The group specialises in growing quality declared seed varieties of soybean from Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute, Kabanyolo. The varieties of the soya range from Mak Soy 1N – 5N.
However, unaware of the looming weather changes, the group procured 50 tonnes of soybean seeds and distributed them to their members.

The beneficiary members received the 50 tonnes on loan and they were expected to pay back after harvest.
The seeds were planted on an estimated 200,000 acres of land, and each acre was expected to raise at least 1,200kgs or 12 bags of soybean,
But due to the prolonged dry spell experienced across the region between May and July, there was total crop failure.
Mr John Christopher Okwang, the AJCFCS chairperson, said: “Most crops dried up in the gardens and only a few fortunate farmers who have their gardens near wetlands were able to get about 400 – 600kgs per acre.”

Going by the current soybean rice of Shs3,000 per kilo, Mr Okwang said  of the 200,000 acres of soya beans planted, they were expecting to harvest 24,000 tonnes, which would earn them Shs7.2 billion.
“But because of the drought, we suffered a big loss of up to Shs4.8 billion this farming season and we are expecting to get only Shs2.4 billion instead of the Shs7.2 billion we had projected at the time when we were distributing seeds to our members,” Mr Okwang said.  He said because of the crop failure, many group members are unable to pay back the seeds they obtained on loan.

Mr Lino Obaro, a member of AJCFCS, said he got soybean seeds worth Shs250,000 on loan. He planted the seeds in his two-acre garden but harvested nothing as the crop withered away.
“I got another loan of Shs500,000 from a Sacco group for growing soybean, beans and maize but they have all failed and I don’t know how I am going to pay back the loan,” Mr Obaro said.

The 70-year-old, who has been a smallholder farmer for 50 years, said he had never witnessed a total crop failure like the one which happened this year because of the prolonged dry spell.
Mr Raphael Odyeny, another member of Alito farmers group, said he planted soybean in his two-acre garden twice this year. But when it was about to start flowering, the dry spell set in.

Mr Odyeny also said he got the seeds worth Shs250,000 on loan.
“I planted the first crop at the beginning of April, but in May when it was flowering and about to start producing the pods, the crops dried up and I dug them down and started planting them afresh. Again, in June when it was about to start flowering the same thing, happened and now I have given up,” Mr Odyeny said.
The Covid-19 pandemic with the associated lockdown has also exacerbated the food insecurity problem in northern Uganda.

In 2019, Lira-based Ngetta Zonal Agricultural Research Development Institute estimated that four million people in the north lived under threat of hunger mainly brought about by the effects of climate change.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warns that Uganda could lose Shs260 billion to rising temperatures by 2050 due to climate change.

What farmers say
Bonny Ocen,  farmer from Lira: “This is a very hard moment for us farmers. I planted soybean, maize and simsim in April, but the prolonged dry spell came and destroyed everything.”

Tonny Ocen, farmer from Lira: “I invested about Shs400,000 in farming during the first planting season while expecting a big harvest. Unfortunately, all crops were scorched by the sun.”

Ronald Otung, farmer: “I planted soybean in a big garden expecting to get a minimum of 10 bags but I ended up with only four basins, yet I spent Shs370,000 on buying seeds, hiring the garden, and labour.

Original Source: Daily

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Uganda’s coffee industry eyes new markets, value addition



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.



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.


“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



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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