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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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Robusta coffee hits record high to trade at sh7,500 per kilo in Ibanda



Robusta coffee prices have continued their upward trend by gaining sh1,000 in value over the past month. 

Robusta is trading at a high of sh7,500 per kilogramme of quality beans in Ibanda, while traders quoted low-grade robusta coffee beans at sh7,200 per kilo.

This compares to sh6,500 a kilo four weeks ago and sh5,600 recorded two months back. The sh7,500 per kilo is the highest for Robusta coffee in a long time in Ibanda and surpasses the sh6,900 recorded during the last harvest season.

Deogratias Tihwayo, a coffee trader in Ibanda town, attributed the increase to the quality of this season’s coffee beans compared to previous seasons. He said this has attracted more buyers and, hence, pushed up the prices.

David Kiiza, the chairperson of Kashangura Coffee Co-operative in Kashungura, Kagongo Division, said farmers were observing the recommended agronomical practices that have improved quality and out-turn. 

Meanwhile, Arabica coffee was unchanged over the reporting period, trading between sh8,000 and sh8,500 per kilogramme in Ibanda town and Kashangura. Arabica coffee hit a record high of sh12,000 a kilo last season. 

However, there has been subdued demand over the past months with the crop out of season.

UCDA daily market prices

Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) indicative figures for March 20 quoted robusta (clean) at between sh7,000 and sh8,000 a kilo, Arabica parchment sh8,500 – sh9,500, and Kiboko ranged from sh2,300 to sh2,600 per kilogramme, among others.

Source: New Vision

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Falling coffee prices, reduced output forecasts rattle Uganda farmers



There has been a slump in international coffee prices and shipping costs in the last quarter of 2022

Uganda’s coffee industry is walking into a challenging 2023 defined by falling prices and diminished output forecasts following the recent dry spell that hit major growing areas.

While the sector enjoyed a boom between 2020 and 2022 – with surging coffee prices, rising export volumes and considerable incomes for farmers – decline in international shipping costs and improved production forecasts in Brazil triggered a slump in coffee prices in the last quarter of 2022, according to industry players.

International shipping costs dropped from record highs of $10,000 per container charged on certain sea routes in January 2022 to less than $2,000. Shipping fees charged per 20-foot container ferried from Indonesia to North America, for example, are estimated at $800-$1,000 currently.

Consequently, local and international coffee prices have dropped since October 2022.

International robusta coffee prices fell from an average price of $2,400 per tonne to $1,856 per tonne towards the end of last year, according to industry data. Local robusta coffee prices declined from Ush7,200 ($1.9) per kilogramme to Ush5,800 ($1.6) per kilogramme during the second half of 2022 while Arabica coffee prices fell from Ush11,000 ($2.9) per kilogramme to Ush8,000 ($2) per kilogramme in the period.

In 2021, average coffee prices stood at more than Ush15,000 ($4) per kilogramme.

Dry spell

Robusta coffee production accounts for more than 60 percent of Uganda’s overall coffee output.

Besides gloomy coffee price forecasts for 2023, a severe dry spell in the past six months could pose a huge threat to coffee production levels. The weather affected major coffee-growing areas like the Central region and risks cutting this year’s output to around 5.5 million bags, industry players forecast.

“Brazil and Vietnam are headed for a bumper coffee harvest this year while India and Indonesia have discounted their local coffee prices in a way that has undercut Uganda’s growth momentum on the international market,” said Robert Byaruhanga, chief executive of local exporter Funzo Coffee Ltd.

Post-Covid shift

Asian and Latin American coffee exporters are regaining dominance in European and North American markets after the lockdown period because of the lower coffee prices, reduced freight charges, shorter port clearance turnaround times and reasonable coffee quality grades, Byaruhanga explained.

Ugandan farmers are now holding onto their coffee produce in anticipation of better prices.

Overall coffee exports stood at 6.26 million bags valued at $862.28 million in 2021/22 compared to 6.08 million bags worth $559.16 million registered in 2020/21, data from the Uganda Coffee Development Authority shows.

An estimated 447,162. 60 kilogramme bags of coffee valued at $64.1 million were exported in November 2022 at an average price of $2.39 per kilogramme — 6 US cents lower than the average price of $2.45 per kilogramme posted in October 2022.

Original Source: Daily Monitor

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Over 40 goats die of PPR disease in Madi-Okollo



At least 43 goats have died of Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) disease, also known as ‘goat plague’ and several others are undergoing treatment in Madi-Okollo district.

Madi-Okollo district veterinary officer, Dr Charles Onzima, says the viral disease, which is related to rinderpest in sheep as well as goats, has claimed the lives of goats in Olali parish in Ogoko sub-county.

He adds that PPR disease was confirmed in the district after 500 local and 94 Boer goats were supplied to families in Olali parish under a poverty eradication programme that he suspects infected the local goats.

43 of the boar goats died while 10 of the local goats of the communities also died of PPR disease.

Onzima says immediately after receiving information about the disease, the veterinary officers got the goats manifesting the signs of PPR that include sudden onset of depression, fever, discharge from the eyes and nose, sores in the mouth, breathing difficulty and death among others.

He says that they have already had three rounds of vaccination for the available goats in the affected area.

Original Source: New Vision Via

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