By Jacquiline Emodek
Investments worth $32m by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to assist small holder farmer groups since 2009 have started yielding results according to Michael Dunford, WFP's acting country representative.
WFP has provided over 1000 farmers with critical information, skills, modern tools, built nine large warehouses in Gulu, Jinja, Soroti, Kasese, Kapchorwa, Lira, Masindi and established nine local storage facilities in the past six years.
"By building warehouses and establishing local storage facilities WFP has increased grain storage capacity in Uganda by more than 25,000 metric tonnes," Dunford explained.
Last year WFP bought over 41,000 metric tonnes of food at a cost of sh417m from small scale framer groups as well as grain traders throughout Uganda.
Daniel Karibwije, the director trade promotion and public relations at Uganda export promotion board says that among others, small scale farmers still face challenges of post-harvest handling like storage and transportation
Speaking to the New Vision, Karibwije said, "Our people still have issues with storage. Quality of grain usually depreciates at this stage due to exposure of grain moisture hence buyers offer less money."
According to the statement, WFP has also trained more than 16,000 farmers in 27 districts and facilitated the purchase of 62,000 pieces of grain storage equipment for households in 2014.
This has seen farmers sell their grain through established grain stores at twice the market price.
Elias Kisambira a farmer and supplier to WFP with the Simutu farmers in Jinja since 2007 says that he doesn't incur losses because the money for his produce is readily available even when prices fluctuate.
"WFP buys the produce at sh900 per kilogram during the planting season therefore when the prices go down to sh400 per kilogram during harvest season I don't have worries," he says.
However Kisambira says that the storage space is not enough for the produce during the harvest season sometimes and so the quality is affected.
"For example now I have 200 tonnes but I don't have a place to store it," he laments.
Government has always focused on market access through the exploitation of Uganda's central location in the East African community.
"Despite the fact that Malawi is our biggest competitor, we have focused on consolidating the local market of East Africa through projects like Feed the Future," Kisambira says.
WFP's support is aligned with the National Agriculture Policy and objectives of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) which is committed to improving rural infrastructure and trade –related capacities for market access.
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