The closure of schools and all the institutions of learning to curtail the second wave of the coronavirus has killed markets as farmers, with the most affected produce being beans which have started rotting away in the stores.
In an interview recently with Molly Awino, a produce buyer and seller at Lalogi Sub County Headquarters says 8 bags of her beans have rotten.
Awino explained that she depended on schools for supply of beans which came to a halt when the Institutions were closed in the first phase of the lockdown.
Awino says she is still stranded with 180 bags of beans after she failed to find markets for the produce even when she traversed the region hunting for the markets.
“I have moved from Acholi to Karamoja but still there is no hope for market” Awino sobbed.
Awino revealed that a bag of beans which was bought at 180,000 shillings is now sold cheaply at 130,000 shillings.
Grace Abalo, a farmer in Loyoajonga village also from Lalogi Sub County similarly noted that she is stuck with 240 bags of beans at home after she cannot find the markets for the produce.
Abalo also faces the same problem like other famers and has had 47 bags of her beans already rotten.
“I was hoping that the schools would resume and the supply begins but now the losses will have to continue” Abalo further explained.
At Gulu City, Alfred Ojok, the Chairperson Produce Buyers and Sellers at Cereleno Market revealed that tons of beans have rotten in stores due to lack of the markets.
He blamed the phenomenon on the poor post-harvest handling which he says has affected the markets in the East African States and other International markets.
Ruth Mugisha, the Northern Uganda Regional Coordinator Uganda Forum for Agricultural Advisory noted that the practices of good post-harvest handling have remained low in the country affecting the markets.
“We couldn’t have limited our products to the domestic markets if we had maintained the quality standards which get back to poor post-harvest practices in the Country,” Mugisha added.
However, Thomas Okello, the Production Officer for Lira District Local Government and the Interim Chairman for Northern Uganda Agricultural Platform has advised the farmers to form Cooperatives.
“Our farmers can do better when they organise themselves into Cooperatives and in that they can negotiate for a bulk markets where individuals can’t” Okello added.
While presenting the budget for the new financial year, State Minister of Finance Amos Lugoloobi recognized challenges affecting agricultural production in the country.
Among the outstanding setbacks in the sector are low productivity, insufficiencies in public investments, lack of quality standards, limited funds and markets among others.
While 1.67 trillion was allocated for agro-industrialization, 7 billion was also allocated for addressing standards for commodity exports, but smallholder farmers have narrow markets with the lockdown.