Rwenzori region Farmers skilled in value

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Farmers in the Rwenzori region have been tipped with different techniques they can apply to reap big from their produce through value addition chains.

This was during a three days first farmers agrobusiness tour that started on 28th to 30th of march within the districts of Kasese, Bunyangabu and fort portal city where farmers visited a coffee processing plant, Avocado farm and oil extract factory, vanilla processing plant, Apiary feild excursion plus a practical honey processing plant, and Tooro diary in fort portal for dairy value addition sessions.

According to Edrick Bwambale the manager at Sustainable Agri-Food Initiative, there are a number of opportunities in the value addition chain that Ugandan farmers have not explored leading to making losses in their agricultural produce at market level.

Bwambale said this as he explained the opportunities that lie in both crop and animal value added produce in the worldwide market to different farmers from districts of Kasese, Bunyangabu and fort portal that gathered for a hands-on tour throughout the region

“Value addition through Agri-food industries present promising prospects and producing improved seeds and fertilizer offers a lucrative opportunity” explains Bwambale.

He adds that there is a need to invest in the packaging sector which has significantly contributed to the value addition process thus improving quality standards and higher product prices.

Julius Rukara, the principal agriculture officer Kasese district insists that value addition enhances farm income, reduces cost of production and also contributes to sustainability of food security.

“The vise of low prices on market can only be fought by adding value to our produce since prices reduce when production is high and low when supply is low” says Rukara

“Farmers need to change their mind to agronomic practices in order to enhance productivity by adding fertilizers to soils for nutrition as well as minimizing environmental impacts” Adds Rukara.

Challenges

Patrick Kaahwa a Hass avocado farmer in Bunyangabu says that the deficient market opportunity system hampers prices of goods since we still major in less value addition as a country but export more thus making losses at foreign exchange because raw products supply leads to fluctuation of prices.

“Access to affordable financing is a significant problem that has impacted the whole agricultural value chain with less options for us local farmers to equally package our products and thus hindering market competitiveness” expresses Kaahwa.

Rukara explains that challenges to do with transportation, storage and unfair business practices hinder market access as well as affecting sales and so there’s a need for farmers to form groups to ease cost and increase bargaining 

What next

Caroline Uwera from KRC Uganda says that educating farmers on quality management especially during harvesting and post- harvest handling, and the impact of quality on prices is crucial.

“There is a need for collaborative efforts for farmers to access low-cost short-term financing to overcome cash flow challenges in the agricultural value chain like the government provided program of Parish development model and low interest agriculture loans” advises Uwera.

Rukara adds that like how President Museveni advocates for a one hectare model, farmers need to invest in “Ekibaro” before involving in any agriculture practice.

“Agriculture needs research and accountability “Ekibaro” for one to get profits before deciding on the enterprise to invest in and approaching extension workers for better agricultural practices” Rukara adds.