Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The drastic fall in prices of agricultural produce has left farmers and traders in agony. The drop in prices came after a lockdown announced by the government as one of the measures to control the spread of coronavirus.
Some of the measures affect the movement of people and congregations. There is no public transport, no more parties, no big weddings, no funerals and no church gatherings and as a result there is a low demand for food yet the supply is seemingly in abundance.
Jomo Mugabe, a farmer from Nyakayojo division in Mbarara district says the price of a bunch of matooke at the plantation has fallen to 4000 Shillings down from 15,000 Shillings. He says that most of the food from his plantation was transported to markets in the urban centres which at the moment are no longer taking as many supplies as was the case before the lockdown.
Also struggling is the diary market where the farm price of milk has dwindled from 600 to 200 Shillings per litre in most districts across the southwestern region corridor. Mugabe says the fluctuating milk prices imply that many of them can no longer afford to look after the animals.
Katongole Jackson Bells, the chairman of Besigana Dairy Farmer’s Cooperative Society in Mbarara says that a litre of acaricides costs 20,000 so one needs to sell more than 50 litres of milk to buy a litre of acaricides.
Fruit growers and traders are equally in misery. Aggrey Tumusiime a fruit vendor in Mbarara town says that the price of watermelon has reduced from 5000 to 1500 Shillings in recent weeks while that of pineapples has fallen from 4000 to 1000 Shillings.
Jackeline Tumushabe, a vegetable trader at Nyakayojo market says that the number of customers in the markets has drastically gone down since the ban on private transport and in the end affected the price of produce.
Currently a basin of tomatoes costs 7,000 down from 15,000 Shillings and green pepper costs 5,000 down from 12,000 Shillings.
Edgar Magara, a farmer in Masha, says the number of traders that picked green pepper from him directly at his garden has declined and he is scared of losing about five acres of green pepper in his plantation.