Lira. Farmers in Lira District have shunned community warehouses and are storing produce in their houses due to lack of transparency in the management of the storage facilities.
However, agribusiness experts warn that storage facilities in the district may not be effective in enhancing farmers’ access to ready market if not utilised.
Few years ago, development partners such as the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, constructed 20 community-level stores in Lira District.
The facilities were handed over to organised groups in 13 sub-counties, including Lira Municipality’s four divisions.
Each unit has a storage capacity of between 70 and 1,000 metric tonnes expected to support more than 200,000 farmers.
The two stores with a capacity of 1,000 metric tonnes, were constructed with support from the International Fertiliser Development Centre, a science-based public international organisation, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.
They are Norah Agro store in Adekokwok Sub-county and Itek Okile in Barr Sub-county.
Farmers are supposed to harvest crops and store them in community stores as they collectively search for quality produce markets.
A farmer, Ms Vicky Akullo, said many farmers do not have bargaining power because of lack of stores in their communities.
“I keep my produce in the house and take it to Produce Line in Lira Town if I want to sell it,” she said.
The district commercial officer, Mr Santos Olade, said seven out of the 20 stores established in Lira are in sorry state and have become non-functional.
The dilapidated facilities include Okio, Owene, Angwetangwet, Aturi, Akia, Alunya-lo-akwonga and Aromo Cotton Growers.
Alledgedly, farmers are not utilising the stores in good shape.
Farmers say they prefer storing produce in their houses to community-level stores because those managing the facilities are allegedly corrupt and incompetent.