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Farmers stuck with produce as prices fall



A trader waits for customers at Awange-mola Road in Lira City on Monday. Falling commodity prices has left farmers in uncertainty. PHOTO | ISAAC OTWII

When farmers in north-eastern region started gathering a bumper harvest in July,  many were optimistic their fortunes would change.
Unfortunately, hundreds of farmers are stuck with thousands of tonnes of maize and beans due to the falling prices of their produce.
“I have been hoping to find a good market for my produce but some dealers offer Shs500 per kilogramme while others Shs510, which is very low,” Mr Nelson Okello Otia, a farmer in Chegere Sub-county in Apac Di strict, who is stuck with more than 300 tonnes of maize, says.
This is half of what they used to be offered for a kilogramme last year.
The farmers from Lira, Kwania, Apac, Abim and Soroti districts are now facing uncertainty on how to pay off the loans they acquired to buy seeds and fertilisers.
The farmers attribute the low food prices to the closure of local markets by government as a measure to contain the spread of coronavirus.
They also claim that middlemen take advantage of their vulnerability to cheat them.
An attempt by Mr Mike Ngura Okello, a farmer in Abongomola Sub-county in Kwania to search for market for his soy beans in the past six weeks has been futile.

“Last year, I sold my soy beans at Shs1,500 per kilogramme but this year, they are buying between Shs900 and Shs1,000 yet the cost of production is very high. I’m stuck with 70 tonnes of produce due to lack of a good market,” Mr Ngura says.
The case is the same for Mr Francis Angany, a maize farmer from Apac Sub-county in Apac.
“In the first season, I planted maize on my 34-acre land and I realised a bumper harvest. I contacted some buyers from Lira but they are offering very low prices,” he says.
The recent government announcement of  reopening of education institutions for finalists leaves them wondering on how to raise fees for their children.
The institutions were closed in March after the country recorded its first case of Covid-19.
However,  with support from some NGOs in the region, the farmers could be sheltered from such effects.
For instance, Edukans and ICCO Cooperation NGOs together with Advance Afrika have trained 46 extension workers in Lira, Abim and Soroti districts to facilitate smallholder access to inclusive markets by focusing on changing the “rules of the game” that govern market systems.
Mr Thomas Okello, the Lira production and marketing officer, told Daily Monitor that the negotiation and lobby skills have improved among extension officers.  “The trained extension workers will use the skills to mobilise farmer groups and strengthen their lobbying and communication skills,” Mr Okello says.
He says the production and marketing department will also teach the skills to organised farmer groups formed by youth, women and persons with disabilities.
Statistics from the department indicate that the district has 15 cooperatives and more than 300 smaller groups while Abim has 1,500 farmers in four groups.
“We want to bring them (farmers) on board and strengthen their capacity so that they can demand for essential services and look for better markets for their produce,” Mr Okello says.
He says such interventions will help the region increase agricultural production and productivity.
“When we increase production and productivity, nutrition, food security and household income will also improve,” Mr Okello says.
Ms Lucy Angeo, an extension officer in Abim, says they have already started passing on the skills to the farmers.
“We are imparting these skills to these groups so that we reduce their vulnerability. We are also trying to strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers so that they can also access those skills,” she says.
Mr Moses Onika, another extension farmer from Lira, says such skills will prevent farmers from being exploited by middlemen.
“That is why we want to strengthen their capacity so that they can lobby, stand firm and sell their produce at fair prices,” Mr Onika says.

As extension workers pass on lobbying and bargaining skills to farmers to avoid exploitation, some parts of the region may be left out if the number of extension workers is not increased. In Lira, for instance, there are only 39 extension workers against the 54 required personnel. “We are trying to recruit more extension workers because the services contribute to more than 50 per cent of the success of a farmer,” Mr Thomas Okello, the Lira production officer, says. “We also have inadequate value addition facilities and post-harvest handling facilities. Those are the areas we must handle so that we improve agricultural production,” he adds. Mr Okello says they will recruit 10 extension workers this financial year and an additional five the following year.

Original Post: Daily Monitor

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National Coffee Forum Petitions Parliament Over UCDA Merger



Coffee stakeholders through National Coffee Forum say UCDA merger will disrupt the coffee sub-sector. Coffee is one of the leading sources of foreign exchange for Uganda

Coffee stakeholders through the National Coffee Forum – Uganda (NCF – UG) has petitioned Parliament through the Speaker over the proposed mainstreaming of Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) into Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF)

The government plans to merge a number of Agencies to the line Ministries in a move aimed at saving about Shs1 trillion annually. If the move succeeds, UCDA will be taken to MAAIF.

However, coffee stakeholders through NCF – UG say that they find the proposal to take UCDA to MAAIF untenable and detrimental to the coffee sub-sector.

NCF-UG is a private foundation whose membership includes farmers, processors, exporters, roasters, brewers and researchers, among others.

The Forum Chairperson Francis Wakabi says that mainstreaming the entity will negatively affect the achievements Uganda has attained in coffee production and export.

“This decision will negatively affect our access to the international market and will stunt Uganda’s economic growth opportunities by distorting the functions of UCDA that have stabilized the industry over the years,” said Wakabi in a petition dated February 21, 2024. The petition was copied in to the Chairperson of Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries as well as all MPs.

He adds that Uganda should not risk its achievements by tampering with UDCA that is the main contributor to our coffee success story.

“Mainstreaming it would therefore disrupt the many livelihoods that depend on the industry and adversely affect the badly needed foreign exchange for the country,” the petition reads in part.

As a result of UCDA coffee regulation, Wakabi says that Uganda’s competitiveness was elevated on the global market, ensuring high quality Uganda coffee and enabling Uganda’s coffee to displace that of Brazil and India in Italy and UK coffee markets.

“… World over, coffee is supervised and regulated by a specialized body like UCDA for purposes of institutional memory and specialized focus. Experience from Ethiopia and Kenya who disbanded their specialized coffee authorities and mainstreamed them back into the relevant ministries had to reverse their decisions after registering negative outcomes,” said Wakabi.

The Forum further says that the European Union (EU) buys over 60% of Uganda coffee, making it the biggest market for Uganda.

“The EU has introduced a new regulation called the EU deforestation regulations (EUDR) which bans export of coffee from deforested land, taking effect from 2025. This calls for farmer traceability and the EU commission in Uganda is already working with UCDA to implement the said regulations. They require a country to constantly monitor deforested areas and map all the farmers for purposes of implementation of the farmer traceability program to maintain a high standard of quality. It was reported that Uganda has achieved most of the requirements under the EUDR and required a few steps to be declared compliant. Monitoring and implementing the scheme for the millions of farmers is a tedious activity which requires a specialized unit that can be best implemented using the already established structures of UCDA. Disrupting the current UCDA structure will not only halt the progress made in achieving compliance, but also risk reversing the gains made,” added Wakabi.

He avers that UCDA has been able to greatly contribute to Uganda’s improved Coffee quality through implementation of programs such as certification of Coffee nurseries to ensure quality of planting materials, Provision of Coffee specific extension services and agronomy to improve production and productivity, Provision of technical expertise in Coffee rehabilitation, post-harvest handling practices and pest and disease management and provision of coffee processing equipment like wet mills to farmers and cooperatives to improve quality and promote value addition. The coffee stakeholders are worried that once UCDA is taken to MAAIF which is loaded with many crops and projects, coffee, a key source of foreign exchange for Uganda may not get the necessary priority. Coffee stakeholders argue that if indeed Parliament is a people-centred institution, it should listen to the views of farmers and other stakeholders and retain UCDA as a semi-autonomous agency.

“Given the above position with the attendant reasons, the NCF advises that the proposed mainstreaming of UCDA into MAAIF should not be implemented and that the proposed Bill No. 30 (part VII) be dropped in order not to disrupt the industry and the progress made under the stewardship of UCDA. All coffee stakeholders are unanimously in agreement with this position,” reads the petition in part.


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Govt to import 10 million vaccines to control cattle disease



Entebbe, Uganda.  Government is set to import 10 million doses of vaccines to enable scaling up of ring vaccination as the fight to eradicate Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Ugandan cattle enters a new phase.

Cabinet chaired by President Yoweri Museveni on Monday also proposed that once ring vaccination is complete, farmers start paying for the FMD vaccines in a compulsory vaccination scheme, and thereafter, trade in animal products, will be restricted to those adhering to the plan.

Minister of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fishers Frank Tumwebazwe on Monday shared the resolutions after Cabinet laid out strategies to contain the disease that has hit 36 districts.

Cabinet agreed to create a revolving fund to enable procurement of sufficient FMD vaccines to facilitate compulsory bi-annual vaccination of the susceptible domestic animal population. It also approved a plan for farmers to pay for the vaccines while government covers other costs.

“Vaccination is to be made compulsory. Proof of vaccination will be a precondition for any farmer to sell any animal products,” said Minister Tumwebazwe.

“I appeal to fellow livestock farmers and stakeholders to understand and appreciate these effort as we steadily move to eradicate FMD in Uganda just like other animal diesases like rinderpest wre eradicated.”

Ntoroko veterinary disease surveillance team conducting FMD surveillance and sample collection

The 36 districts currently affected and under quarantine are Budaka, Bukedea, Bukomansimbi, Bunyangabu, Butaleja, Fortportal City, Gomba, Ibanda, Isingiro, Kabarole, Kasanda, Kayunga, Kazo, Kiboga, Kibuku, Kiruhura, Kumi, Kyankwanzi, Kyegegwa, Kyotera, Luuka, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Mbarara, Mbarara City, Mityana, Mpigi, Mubende, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Namisindwa, Ngora, Ntungamo, Rakai, Rwampara and Sembabule.

All districts neighboring the affected districts are at high risk, under strict surveillance, and the authorities have been advised to remain vigilant.

These include Apac, Amolatar, Bugiri, Bushenyi, Butaleja, Hoima, Iganga, Jinja, Kabale, Kaberamaido, Kaliro, Kamuli, Kamwenge, Katakwi, Kasese, Kibaale, Kiboga, Kyenjojo, Mbale, Masindi, Mayuge, Mukono, Namalemba, Nakapiripirit,
Palisa, Rukungiri, Sironko, Wakiso and Soroti.

Tumwebaze assured farmers that in the next one or two months, his Ministry expects to receive and dispatch 2.3 million doses of the FMD vaccine to the affected and susceptible districts for ring vaccination scale-up.

He told parliament earlier that as a way of increasing availability of Foot and Mouth Disease vaccines in the country,
Uganda’s National Agiculture Research Organisation (NARO) has started the process of formulating and developing an FMD vaccine for Uganda.

Source: The independent

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Farmers losing Shs4 trillion due to livestock diseases



ScienceDirect has revealed that farmers in Uganda lose more than $1.1b (Shs4.1 trillion) in aggregated annual direct and indirect loss due to the rising spread of tick-borne animal challenges, with the commonest and economically damaging tick-borne disease being the East Coast Fever.

The livestock industry in Uganda and its productivity continue to be threatened by a number of diseases many of which are tick-borne related.

This, Dr Anna Rose Ademun, the Ministry of Agriculture commissioner animal health, said results from arcaricides that have become resistant, thus the need to ensure collaboration and get solutions to the problem.

“There are ongoing efforts by the Agriculture Ministry, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation to support diagnosis of tick resistance to acaricides at regional laboratory centres but this is not enough,” she said during the livestock industry key stakeholders meeting in Kampala, which had been convened to discuss and prioritise areas for tick control.

The stakeholders included veterinarians, extension staff, farmers, processors and government representatives.

Ministry of Agriculture is already working on the Managing Animal Health and Acaricides for a Better Africa Initiative, which seeks to, among others, provide sustainable solutions to enable small-scale farmers maximise the potential of their cattle by developing and practicing methods that can successfully manage tick infections in cattle.

During the meeting, the TickAcademy App, which will support farmers in managing tick infestations was also pre-launched.

By the end of January, farmers and extension workers will be able to access the app’s educational content, which includes simple-to-watch films, to help them become knowledgeable about tick control.

Mr Enrique Hernández Pando, the GALVmed head of commercial development and impact, said the Managing Animal Health and Acaricides for a Better Africa Initiative will be important in tackling acaricide resistance challenges as well as help farmers and animal health officers to access creative methods of addressing the problem of acaricide resistance.

During the meeting, stakeholders jointly agree to train and sensitise field staff and farmers about tick management strategies that work, as well as strengthen the diagnostic infrastructure and testing capabilities for tick resistance and other animal health-related concerns.

Others will involve making it easier for farmers to obtain credit from savings institutions run by farmer groups at a reasonable cost so they may purchase specialized equipment for applying pesticides.

Mr Nishal Gunpath, the Elanco Animal Health country director south and sub-Saharan Africa, said they will support the Initiative to drive livestock in a better direction, noting that it will also help small-scale livestock farmers to maximise their potential.

Original Source: Daily Monitor

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