Farmers want the government to formulate policies favouring and determining the sale of their produce
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Farmers in the Ankole region are demanding that the government be the one to determine and declare standard market prices to save them from being cheated by traders and middlemen.
Market prices for most food crops like beans, maize, banana and groundnuts have lately fallen at the farm gate but increased on consumer market.
Currently, a kilogram of beans goes for 1,600 Shillings at the farmer’s gate while on market, it goes for between 2,500 and 3,000 shillings which according to them is much higher compared to farm price.
The largest bunch of bananas is bought for 4,000 Shillings from the farmer while the market price is between 8,000 and 10,000. Tomatoes prices have also fallen from 130,000 to 80,000 Shillings a box at the farm while in the market a small basin goes for 7,000 shillings.
A similar situation was experienced during last year’s Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and now farmers are expressing a repeat.
Macklin Sabiiti, a farmer in Buyanja wants the government to provide efficient market information which she believes can show positive benefits for both farmers, and traders.
She says since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, prices have failed to stabilize and traders have used this opportunity to cheat farmers noting that up-to-date, current market information would enable farmers to negotiate with traders from a position of strength.
Yason Mwebesa Mushaba, the director of Agriculture Hands-On Africa says the biggest challenge faced by farmers are the middlemen who have monopolized and determine the prices both at gardens and markets.
He now wants government to formulate policies favouring farmers in determining the sale of their produce.
He says that farmers should also consider value addition to their produce, however, Mwebesa says that government should also come on board to assist farmers to get markets without middlemen.
Amos Atukwase, a farmer in Isingiro district says that prices reduce mostly during harvest timebecause produce is plenty compared to the available market.
Petero Bagerize, a farmer says farmers have failed to follow up in the market to understand how the prices which traders and middlemen offer are determined.
He says some farmers sell depending on the problem at home because most farmers use loans to cultivate.
He wants the government to ‘own back’ the buying of products and have stores to collect the produce with a known buyer employed by the government and determine the price.
Muhamed Nyombi, chairperson of the Mbarara Central Market Traders Association agrees with the demand for proper information on prices noting that with clear information of prices to both farmers and traders, the distribution of produce from rural to urban areas would stabilise both market and garden prices.
Emmanuel Kishe, Chairperson of Farmers Association Kiruhura wants farmers to start cooperative societies and unions to have bargaining power.
He says every time the farmer lacks the power to bargain, the more the middlemen and traders benefit.
Godfrey Mutebi, Mbarara district commercial officer faults the middlemen on the price fluctuation, noting that farmers should come together to form a society to give themselves one voice.
He also advises farmers who can afford to always carry their produce to market directly without waiting for middlemen.
According to Food Agriculture Organization, Market Information Services have unfortunately often proven to be unreliable and where they have endured, they have often failed to provide commercially useful advice, confining themselves to the gathering of data that is rarely used.