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Matooke prices drop from Shs 15,000 to Shs 1,000 in Ankole



The price of a bunch of matooke has fallen drastically in Ankole region in western Uganda from the Shs 15,000 in pre-lockdown period to Shs 1,000 during the coronavirus lockdown. Ankole is one of the biggest producers of matooke in the country, a food staple for the majority of Ugandans.
Matooke production has over the years transformed livelihoods across the region, with more people depending on the food crop to earn a living, a story which is almost similar in the areas of Buhweju, Bushenyi, Ibanda, Isingiro, Kiruhura, Mbarara, Ntungamo Rubirizi and Rwampara, among others.
But many of the farmers are now struggling as the cost of a bunch of matooke hit the lowest mark, going for as low as Shs 1,000 and Shs 2,000 from Shs 15,000 and Shs 25,000 before the lockdown which was imposed in March this year to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The farmers say that although the price drops are always expected during the peak harvest season running from June to August, the drop this year is unprecedented.Annet Natukunda Kitende, a banana trader at Kasana market said that this is the biggest drop she has witnessed for the last four years that she has been in the business. Natukunda says that she now buys a bunch of Matooke at Shs 1,000 from the farmer and sells it between Shs 2,000 and Shs 4,000 to the final consumer.

Edward Muheki, a farmer that owns up to 15 acres of banana plantations in Mbarara district says he has incurred losses this year than never before. Muheki, suspects that the drop was caused by effects of the COVID-19 lockdown which affected the movement of traders from other urban centres and consumption patterns among city dwellers.

Susan Orishaba, another farmer in Bireere sub-county, Isingiro district partly blames the drop on the ban on public gatherings. She said weddings and burials used to contribute a lot to the consumption of matooke, a market which is now nonexistent.

Today, she adds, one needs to sell over 20 bunches of matooke to buy a five kilograms bag of maize flour.

“A bunch is Shs 1500, a kilo of flour is 2,500, you need to sell 10 bunches to buy a five kilograms bag of posho flour, that’s how cheap the matooke is today,” she said.Reverend Canon Godfrey Ngabirano Karitani, another farmer who owns over 30 acres in Katerera village in Rwampara district, says the number of banana traders has decreased compared to those that used to comb the villages before the lockdown.

He adds that several markets where distance traders from Kampala and South Sudan used to buy matooke from have been closed for failing to implement Covid-19 standard operating procedures.

“Right now the matooke ranges between Shs 4,000 and Shs 6,000 at the village level. We don’t have a lot of people who come to buy matooke. They used to be there when there was no COVID-19. But when the markets were closed, these people do not now come. People come from Kampala at least two or three. They go around to buy matooke from farmers. That is why you find that you have your matooke but you have nowhere to sell them. The price is determined by the middlemen,” he said.Ngabirano says farmers have to deal with the challenge of middlemen and that the current situation has given them the advantage to determine the price of Matooke from the garden

“We have a challenge of middlemen who come and tell you a bunch of matooke is at Shs 1,000 and when he goes and he sells it at Shs 4,000, Shs 5,000, Shs 6,000. Even others go to Shs 7,000 and you find that he gets a lot of money which the farmer doesn’t get, the owner of the plantation doesn’t determine the price,” he added.Rubirizi district commercial officer, Deo Abimpe said they are advocating for banana cooperatives so that the farmers can have one voice when determining prices.

Original Post: Observer

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Report links 1,600 deaths to pesticide poisoning



A total of 1,599 deaths between 2017 and 2022 were linked to organophosphate (pesticide) poisoning, researchers from Uganda National Institute of Public Health (UNIPH) and the Health ministry found.This information is in one of the reports presented yesterday during the 9th National Field Epidemiology Conference in Kampala.

The study led by Mr Robert Zavuga was based on the data from the District Health Information System (of the Health ministry), which is received from health facilities across the country.“A total of 37,883 (average of 6,314 per year) organophosphate (OP) [health facility] admissions and 1,599 (average of 267 per year) deaths were reported,” the report reads.

OP admission was defined by researchers as a hospital stay due to suspected OP poisoning. In contrast, OP poisoning death was defined as inpatient death with OP poisoning listed as the cause of death.The researchers linked the poisoning to the widespread use of OP pesticides by farmers in the country amid limited knowledge of how to use the pesticides safely.

“Uganda has an agricultural-based economy with widespread use of organophosphate-based pesticides. This elevates the risk for OP poisoning in the population,” the report reads further.According to the report, the overall average incidence was 15 organophosphate admissions per 100,000 persons.

On areas, sex and age that are most affected, the report indicates, “residents of Ankole Sub-region were more affected while those in Lango Sub-region were least affected.”“Males had a higher incidence of organophosphate poisoning than females. Children under 5 years had a higher incidence than persons above 5 years (20 vs 14/100,000),” the report said.

Overall, 1,599 (average of 267 per year) deaths were reported between 2017 and 2022. Residents in Kampala had the highest overall case fatality rate (CFR) while those in Teso had the lowest (CFR: 8.5 percent vs 2.2 percent),” the report reads.

According to the report released yesterday, “there was more than 3-fold decline in incidence of OP poisoning admissions per 100,000 population from 2017-2022,” however, the researchers noted, “there was no significant change in the case fatality rate of organophosphate poisoning.”

“The incidence of organophosphate poisoning admissions declined throughout the study period. Since 2014, Uganda has implemented periodic public awareness campaigns about safe use of pesticides for small-holder farmers and pesticide dealers,” the report says.

“These campaigns have included sensitisation about responsible handling to reduce risk of poisoning and environmental pollution.

Additional campaigns targeting government pesticide regulators, non-governmental organisations, and media have also been implemented to address the dangers of organophosphate poisoning,” it adds.

The report says Uganda has also implemented the Agricultural Chemical Control Act to use less toxic pesticides, which may be contributing to the reduction in organophosphate poisonings.“To continue this decline, it is important to monitor and strengthen these interventions,” the researchers from UNIPH and Health ministry recommended.

Source: Daily Monitor Via

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Statement: The Energy Sector Strategy 2024–2028 Must Mark the End of the EBRD’s Support to Fossil Fuels



The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is due to publish a new Energy Sector Strategy before the end of 2023. A total of 130 civil society organizations from over 40 countries have released a statement calling on the EBRD to end finance for all fossil fuels, including gas.

From 2018 to 2021, the EBRD invested EUR 2.9 billion in the fossil energy sector, with the majority of this support going to gas. This makes it the third biggest funder of fossil fuels among all multilateral development banks, behind the World Bank Group and the Islamic Development Bank.

The EBRD has already excluded coal and upstream oil and gas fields from its financing. The draft Energy Sector Strategy further excludes oil transportation and oil-fired electricity generation. However, the draft strategy would continue to allow some investment in new fossil gas pipelines and other transportation infrastructure, as well as gas power generation and heating.

In the statement, the civil society organizations point out that any new support to gas risks locking in outdated energy infrastructure in places that need investments in clean energy the most. At the same time, they highlight, ending support to fossil gas is necessary, not only for climate security, but also for ensuring energy security, since continued investment in gas exposes countries of operation to high and volatile energy prices that can have a severe impact on their ability to reach development targets. Moreover, they underscore that supporting new gas transportation infrastructure is not a solution to the current energy crisis, given that new infrastructure would not come online for several years, well after the crisis has passed.

The signatories of the statement call on the EBRD to amend the Energy Sector Strategy to

  • fully exclude new investments in midstream and downstream gas projects;
  • avoid loopholes involving the use of unproven or uneconomic technologies, as well as aspirational but meaningless mitigation measures such as “CCS-readiness”; and
  • strengthen the requirements for financial intermediaries where the intended nature of the sub-transactions is not known to exclude fossil fuel finance across the entire value chain.


Download the statement:

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Kigezi In Famine Scare After Drought Hits The Region



Farmers in Rubanda district are living in fear that they may be hit by famine due to the prolonged drought that has greatly affected the area. This comes after the area was hit by heavy rains in the month of May 2023, which left most of the gardens washed away, and since then the dry season has started up to date.

This is the first of its kind for Rubanda district and Kigezi at large to undergo such a prolonged drought.

According to farmers, this is the first of its kind for Rubanda to go through a long drought, adding that they are in fear that they may be hit by famine since they were used to receiving rains at the beginning of August, which is not the case this year. They add that even the seedlings that they had planted excepting that the rains would come have all dried up by the long spell.

Farmers also say that they don’t know what could be the cause that has stopped the rains,adding that the government should come up with a program that provides them with seedlings.

Akampurira Prossy Mbabazi, a woman Member of Parliament for Rubanda District, says that the issue of drought is not only in Rubanda District; however, this is the first of its kind. She adds that the drought comes after the area was hit by heavy rains, which caused a lot of challenges, adding that now it is the drought that may affect the farmers.

Akampurira further says that, as a leader,she will continue to educate farmers on better methods of farming depending on climate change.

Kikafunda Evelyne, founder of Green Environment Promotion (GEP), says it’s sad that farmers in Rubanda district and Kigezi at large are experiencing a long drought. She attributes it to problems of environmental degradation that include swamps being reclaimed, deforestation, and plastic pollution, adding that this is an indication that people don’t mind about the environment.

Kikafunda calls upon all people to take part in protecting the environment, adding that environmentalists should devise means on how to protect the environment.

It’s now been four months since it last rained in the districts of greater Kabale, that is, Rubanda, Kabale, and Rukiga districts, as well as other parts of the Kigezi Subregion.


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