By Gloria Nakiyimba
Farmers in Kigumba sub county in Kiryandongo district are celebrating after receiving a new modern grain storage facility constructed by Government through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) in partnership with World Food Programme (WFP) and the District Local Government.
The grain store worth UGX 215 million with a capacity of 300 metric tons is the second storage facility constructed by Government for farmers in Kiryandongo one of the leading maize growing districts in Uganda. The first one was given to maize farmers in Mutunda Sub County.
The initiative is aimed at addressing identified gaps in food storage capacity, post-harvest losses eradication, value addition and collective marketing systems.
It is also hoped that this will improve access to agro-inputs in selected parts of the country.
The intervention is in line with government initiative to reduce post-harvest losses and improve on the quality of grain produced in Uganda.
Addressing farmers, the Executive Director NAADS Dr. Samuel Mugasi said Government through NAADS provided the funding for the establishment of the store and capacity building for the farmers while WFP implemented the construction of the community store through procurement of the contracts and supervision.
Uganda is currently producing close to 5 million metric tons of maize annually, however, there are still gaps in storage capacity of this maize with the current storage facilities accommodating only 800,000 metric tons.
Government has so far constructed twelve modern grain facilities in 11 districts of Hoima, Masindi, Adjumani, Kyegegwa, Mubende, Kyenjojo, Kiboga, Kibaale, Nakaseke, Napak and Kiryandongo with plans to construct more in maize growing districts.
Members of Kiigya United Farmers’ Cooperative Society Limited the beneficiaries of the grain store in Kigumba sub county appreciated Government and WFP for the support saying it will help to eliminate the middleman in maize trade. A member of the cooperative Bigirwa Wilson said farmers have suffered in the hands of middlemen who have been buying their maize cheaply.
“When Kenya closed the boarder and banned maize from Uganda, prices of maize dropped to UGX.300 per kilogram with some farmers in villages getting as low as shs.250 because we had nowhere to store it and keep it for a long time. However, with the store given to us, we shall be able have good quality maize and negotiate for better prices as a cooperative”, explained Bigirwa
The chairperson of the cooperative Bamanya Tom said the farmers still need more support especially in the area of water for production given the climate change which has affected the farming seasons across the country.