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How dry spells have affected milk supply

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A milk dealer attends to a customer at Kabula Farmers’ Cooperative Society centre in Lyantonde District on July 25.

During the rainy season, Mr Asiimwe produces up to 1,120 litres of milk every week, but the prolonged dry spells have affected milk production at his farm and currently produces only 400 litres.

“I am spending a lot of money on looking after these dairy cows, buying both water and pasture and if we fail to get rain in the coming weeks, I will lose some animals,” he predicts.

Some of the farmers in various cattle corridor districts say milk production has drastically gone down in the past months when dry spells set in, which has affected water sources and pasture. The dry spells have led to a spike in milk prices, but farmers say they still make little profits due to high expenses incurred.

Currently, the farm gate price per litre of milk in many districts is trading at between Shs1,000 and Shs2,000 up from Shs600 two months ago. A litre of processed milk is going for either Shs3,800 or Shs4,000, depending on the brand.

According to Mr Robert Kanyete, the chairperson of Rakai District Livestock Farmers Association, their members have lost many animals during the long spells and dealers are buying them cheaply.

“We sell some of the cattle that are starving at a very cheap price as low as Shs100,000,” he says.

Mr Naboth Mabega, a butcher at Kabungo Trading Centre in Ddyango Town Council, Rakai District, reveals that increased cases of starving animals has affected the prices of beef.

“In some villages where starving cattle are dying, a kilo of beef goes for Shs3,000, some animals are slaughtered when they have already died,” he says.

Mr Perezi Karamuzi, a resident of Maddu Sub-county in the Gomba District, says he has since lost 11 dairy cows due to prolonged dry spells, and this recently prompted him to start hiring a water bowser truck at a cost of Shs700,000 to fetch water from River Katonga every week.

“Milk production has drastically reduced to the extent that some farmers no longer sell milk and the little they get is consumed by their families,” he says.

Despite the reduction in milk production and supply, the demand had remained high, according to Mr Fred Kuhabwa of Ever Fresh Dairy /Bwera Farmers’ Cooperative Society, which has since dominated the milk market in Masaka.

 “The farm gate price of a litre of milk was Shs800 in May, but it has increased to Shs1,600. So, considering the high fuel prices and other expenses involved, we have been prompted to sell a litre at Shs2,300 in most of the urban centres around,” Mr Kuhabwa says.

A milk dealer testing the quality of milk at one of  the cooperative  milk centres in Lyantonde District on July 25.

Mr Enock Gumisiriza, the chairperson of Lugusulu Livestock Farmers Association in Sembabule District, says he took a painful decision to relocate his livestock to the neighbouring Lyantonde District where there is still some pasture and water for animals.

 “When we took the decision to relocate [to Lyantonde] in the first week of July, most of our livestock  suffered tick-borne related diseases and some have  since died, we can hardly observe routine spraying to prevent ticks and measures for our livestock,” he says.

A similar measure has been adopted by Mr Tom Superman Opwonya, a livestock farmer in Nambieso Sub-county in Kwania District, who relocated his cattle near the shores of Lake Kwania.

“Here [near Lake Kwania] water is in abundance, but we buy hay for our cattle. We used to get more than 20 litres of milk per day, but currently it has reduced to less than five litres,” he says.

 Mr David Agweno, a cattle keeper at Obalia Village, Ibuje Sub-county in Apac District, says his cattle have started dying due to inadequate water and pasture.

 “I have more than 200 head of cattle in my kraal, but I lost more than 10 calves and I believe it happened due to poor feeding,” he adds.

In Arua City, the prices of milk have gone up from Shs1,000 a cup to Shs1,200.

Ms Salma Abiko, a resident of Nsambya North Cell, Arua Central Division, says: “This is going to affect the breast feeding mothers who need milk supplement because we mainly depend on milk coming from Mbarara.”

  “If children are not fed well on milk, it will cause malnutrition which is bad for their health,” she adds.

 In Moyo District, Mr Adam Mamawi, the secretary for Production at Lefori Town Council, says water sources in the area have all dried up.

 “Our animals are starving, we don’t know what we can do and what kind of help we can get from the government over this matter,” he says.

 The cattle farmers, who are few in the West Nile Sub-region, have for a long time urged the government to construct valley dams in cattle rearing areas. This, the farmers say, would help in storage of water for animals.

 Mr Charles Adrawa Young, the assistant agriculture officer Lefori Sub-county, says animals are now surviving on leaves and others are destroying gardens in order to get food.

 “We advise cattle owners to control their animals from straying in people’s gardens in order to avoid conflicts,” he says.

 Although the dry season has not led to the death of domestic animals in Kigezi, the quantity of milk production has reduced leading to the increase in prices.

The vice chairperson for Kigezi Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society, Mr Francis Kateiguta, says while they used to get about 4,000 litres of milk every day during the rainy season, they currently receive only 2,500 litres.

“The price of a litre of milk has increased from Shs800 to Shs1,400 because of milk scarcity resulting from the dry season as the cows are not getting enough pastures, but we expect the situation to get better now that the rain has started in some areas,” Mr Kateiguta says.

The Uganda National Metrological Authority ( UNMA ) has since indicated that this month is likely to be characterised by enhanced rainfall in most parts of the country.

“The rainfall outlook for August indicates that areas of northern, eastern and parts of mid-western are likely to receive enhanced rainfall while the rest of the country is likely to receive occasional rainfall,” a weather outlook focus released at the weekend reads in part.

Mr Wilberforce Tigawalana, a livestock farmer   in Namasagali Sub-county, Kamuli District, says the milk production on his farm has dropped from three to two jerrycans per day.

“We have to maintain our customers who trust us with pure milk. What we have done is to increase the price per cup from Shs500 to Shs700,” he says.

To avoid more losses in future, Mr Obed Nayijuka, a cattle Keeper in Nyarubanga Ward, Mbarara City North, says they are planning to start planting pasture such as Napier grass (elephant grass), brachiaria mulato (Congo siginal grass or locally known as kifuta)  that can sustain them during dry spells.

“It is increasingly becoming difficult to sustain livestock farming without enough pasture. We have been looking for banana peelings to ensure our cattle survive, but now we are planning to plant our own grass,” he says.

Mr Steven Mugisha, a cattle farmer in Rwebishuri Ward, Mbarara City, says he has been buying water since June to feed his animals and the area only received some rain on August 1.

Source: Daily Monitor

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Moderate rain, dry spells in parts of Uganda expected

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ICPAC has predicted moderate rainfall for this week (September 20-27, 2022) for parts of the Greater Horn of Africa including Uganda.

ICPAC is a Climate Center accredited by the World Meteorological Organization that provides Climate Services to 11 East African Countries.

“Moderate rainfall (50-200mm) expected over western South Sudan, parts of southern Sudan, most parts of Uganda, Rwanda, central Ethiopia, and northern Somalia,” ICPAC stated in their weekly forecast for September 20-27, 2022.

ICPAC says one millimetre of rain is equivalent to one litre of rain per square kilometre.

The forecast is also predicting wetter than usual conditions expected over most parts of southern Sudan, northwestern South Sudan, northern Ethiopia, northern Somalia, northern and southern Uganda, and Rwanda.

Drier than usual conditions are predicted over parts of western Uganda, north-eastern South Sudan, central Ethiopia, and isolated parts in central Somalia.

At the same time, light rain is expected over parts of some countries in the Greater Horn of Africa. “Light rainfall (less than 50 mm) expected over southern Sudan, eastern South Sudan, Burundi, coastal Tanzania, central to western and eastern Kenya, central to southern Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and parts of northern and southern Ethiopia,” ICPAC stated.

In addition, dry conditions are expected over northern Sudan, parts of northern and eastern Kenya, and most parts of Tanzania.

Original Source: New Vision

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Sugarcane farmers abandon fields due to lack of markets

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While the sugarcane sector has the potential to empower stakeholders along the value chain, farmers have abandoned their fields for other income-generating activities, writes YUDAYA NANGONZI.

Currently, sugar production has declined amidst increasing demand from consumers and fluctuating prices, with the majority of millers operating below capacity. In a study conducted by the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) on the sector, Dr Swaibu Mbowa, the lead researcher, attributed the massive exodus of cane growers to lack of markets and a decline in cane prices while other farmers have already replaced cane with food crops.

The increasing levels of poverty in cane-growing districts have also forced farmers to rethink the crop. In Uganda, about 29,000 farming households engage in cane production with an estimated 640,000 labourers. More households took up the business between 2012 and 2021 with at least 40,000 households, at one point, growing cane between 2005 and 2021.

“By the time we collected data in November-December 2021, this number had declined to about 29,000. This indicates that 28 per cent of out- growers had abandoned cane growing, with the highest attrition rate (33.8%) occurring in the Busoga sub-region,” Mbowa said.

This implies that one in every three cane farmers in Busoga has abandoned the business. Currently, Busoga has 20,474 growers while 10,475 stopped growing cane. In the Buganda region, the research shows that there are 4,394 growers and 522 farmers out of the business. In Bunyoro, 367 farmers joined other activities, leaving 3,801 active growers.

Mbowa presented the daunting figures at the recent 10th national Forum on Agriculture and Food Security held at Sheraton hotel in Kampala. The forum was organized by the EPRC in collaboration with Michigan State University and the International Food Policy Research Institute under the auspices of the Food Security Policy Research, Capacity and Influence.

Themed “Revisiting Policy, Institutional and Regulatory Arrangements in Uganda’s Sugarcane Sector”, the forum intended to stimulate debate on how to strengthen and improve the implementation of the sugarcane policy and regulatory frameworks to foster sustainable transformation in Uganda.

“MILLERS FAILING FARMERS”

Worldwide, sugar factory ownership is a mix between the government and the private sector. For Uganda, ownership is largely private with the government owning a lesser stake in the Atiak Sugar factory after selling its shares in Kinyara Sugar Factory in 2017.

This arrangement, farmers argued, has forced many to collapse as millers suffocate the sector. As of 2020, there were 33 licensed mills, with a combined milling capacity of 71,850 tonnes per day.

However, by December 2021, only 12 mills in the study sub-regions were operational and out-growers sold more cane to mainly established large millers who have disproportionate power over sugarcane price determination.

Mbowa noted that existing millers acquired new licenses in different jurisdictions to forestall other players from establishing milling plants in the same area. This could explain why there are fewer operational mills than those licensed.

The negative free-fall in sugarcane prices worsened the situation. For instance, a tonne of cane that cost Shs 175,000, Shs 162,000, and Shs 135,000 in Buganda, Busoga, and Bunyoro in 2017 has since dropped to Shs 95,282, Shs 92,782, and Shs 97,907 respectively.

Speaking to The Observer on the sidelines of the forum, a cane out-grower and director of the sugarcane value chain at Operation Wealth Creation, Kabakumba Labwoni Masiko, agreed that prices are illogically fixed by millers.

“We may look at millers as competitors in business but it’s not the case during price determination. Unlike in the past when millers would negotiate with farmers or their association, today, you find the price fixed on their notice board. Surprisingly, cane is the only crop where prices don’t vary much across the country. What does that mean?” Kabakumba asked.

Due to the price inconsistencies, some farmers have been forced to cut the cane for other activities since millers were also taking longer to buy it at fair prices.

“Today, there’s scarcity of cane. Millers are looking for cane in vain and that cyclical nature of operation by hurting farmers is catching up with them and the entire sugar sector,” she said.

The farmers also faulted millers for infiltrating their organization to ensure that they remain weak and the introduction of cane harvesting permits has created a black market for them, especially in Buganda to the detriment of farmers.

The manager of Kayunga Sugarcane Outgrowers Cooperative Society, Semeo Mugenyi, urged the government to regulate how far millers can go in expanding their nucleus to reduce competition with farmers.

“The primary role of an investor is to give economic opportunities to the local people. If the investor takes half of the supply, then it limits potential farmers on their supply,” Mugenyi said, adding that without a sugar mill managed by farmers as promised by President Museveni, cane farmers will continue to be exploited or exit the sector.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The study findings call for urgent discussions among government and sector stakeholders on the future of the sugarcane sector. In particular, the study points to the need for the constitution of the sugar board, as recommended by the Sugar Act 2020 to oversee the sector. Mbowa said the inclusion of out-growers in the cane sector is “the primary means by which it can contribute to increases in rural farm household incomes, food security, and rural employment in cane-growing areas.”

To date, the 2010 Sugar Policy and the Sugar Act of 2022 are not operational. David Kiiza, a senior industrial officer at the ministry of Trade, said the government has made strides in organizing the sector but remains constrained by inadequate funds.

“We wrote to stakeholders and they sent us their nominations but the ministry of Finance said it has no money for setting up the board. They [Finance] told us to make a supplementary budget of Shs 2bn [to set up the board] but they have told us to wait. Most likely, the money will be availed in the next financial year,” Kiiza said.

He added: “The ministry of Trade has already held a meeting with millers and we plan to schedule one for the out-growers and later meet them all in one meeting to agree how to set up the board as we await funds from the government. By the end of this year, we expect the Act to be reviewed.”

In the meantime, Kabakumba urged the traditional big millers to graduate into the production of refined industrial sugar as Uganda has brown sugar in surplus. This would provide the much-needed market for the farmers of sugarcane as well as more employment opportunities for small millers dealing in brown sugar.

Source: The Observer

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Hailstorm destroys community school, gardens in Isingiro

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Isingiro, Uganda. Residents of Rugaaga, Kashumba sub counties, and Kabingo town council in Isingiro district are counting losses following a heavy hailstorm that destroyed their gardens. The hailstorm that affected more than 300 homesteads also destroyed a community school and houses on Tuesday.

Kenneth Kaunda, the headteacher of Noah Community School said that the rain that started at 4:00pm, de-roofed three classroom blocks and the school’s administration block.

Kaunda says that he is now planning to call the PTA and school management meeting over the matter.

Warren Matiibita a resident of Katungye cell said he has lost 16 acres of banana plantation to the hailstorm and this leaves him worried about how he will manage to pay his loan and school fees for his children. Matiibita says that he has been collecting at least 100,000 Shillings from 100 bunches every two days.

He also says the hailstorm destroyed gardens of beans, cassava, and maize.

Steven Mwesigye, the chairperson LCI Katungye cell said about 320 households were affected by the hailstorm in his village and seven houses were destroyed.

He said that the hailstorm hit at a time when the area is experiencing a dry spell.

Medius Kenkanja, another affected resident said that she lost one and a half acres of cassava and eight acres of banana plantations, and a house leaving her stranded with her eight children. She pleaded with the government for help.

Alone Turahi, the Isingiro LCV chairperson said that they have asked the District Production Officer to compile a comprehensive report on the extent of the damages caused by the hailstorm.

He said that the District Disaster Management Committee has a small budget of less than five million shillings and can’t afford to assist the affected families. Turahi said that they will write to the Office of the Prime Minster requesting relief food for the affected families.

Anita Atukwase, an environmentalist with Save the Nature in Isingiro district says that there is rampant deforestation and poor farming practices in the area.

Original Source: URN via The Independent

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